Ajax v Legia preview
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
AFC Ajax will hope to bounce back after parachuting down from the UEFA Champions League as they meet Legia Warszawa in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
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The champions of the Netherlands and Poland go head to head in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, with AFC Ajax coach Frank de Boer looking to enjoy his third encounter with Legia Warszawa.
What they say
Ajax coach Frank de Boer: "Legia are a good team with good players and a lot of experience, so we must do everything we possibly can to beat them. Legia have an international style. They have two controlling midfielders and one of them is a very good playmaker who likes to inject pace into the game. They certainly aren't a counterattacking team because they like to exert pressure higher up."
Legia coach Henning Berg: "I don't think Frank de Boer needs to prove that he's a good coach. He has won the championship four times in a row and that has never happened before at Ajax. Of course it's difficult for him to win the league but it's not impossible. I'm sure they want to go further in the Europa League. They play in the Champions League more or less every year. I'm sure that Ajax wants to go as far as possible in this competition."
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition. This is Ajax's first experience of Polish opposition.
• Legia's three previous games in the Netherlands ended W1 L2.
• Ajax coach Frank de Boer took on Legia as an FC Barcelona player in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League; he scored as his team won 3-0 at home and figured in a 1-0 victory in Warsaw too.
• Ajax's 4-0 thrashing of APOEL FC on matchday six was their only win of this season's UEFA Champions League group stage. It was also their first success in four UEFA club competition home fixtures in 2014.
• A 1-0 defeat at KSC Lokeren OV on matchday five ended a three-match winning streak on the road for Legia in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League, all those games having finished 1-0.
Trivia and links
• Ajax's Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik will be up against his compatriots; the 20-year-old, on loan from Bayer 04 Leverkusen, made his name as a teenager at Górnik Zabrze.
• Legia's 36-year-old attacker Marek Saganowski has Dutch experience, having made his first move abroad to play for Feyenoord in 1997, though he failed to score in seven Eredivisie outings.
• The final takes place at the National Stadium Warsaw on 27 May. Legia could thus feature in the final in their home city. Feyenoord won the 2001/02 UEFA Cup in a one-off game in Rotterdam, but Sporting Clube de Portugal lost the 2004/05 decider at their Lisbon home.
• Legia and Celtic FC have had the longest European campaigns of the round of 32 contenders; having kicked off their seasons in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, they enter the round of 32 having already played 12 European matches in 2014/15.
• Ajax (Netherlands) and Legia (Poland) are among seven reigning domestic champions in the last 32, along with Aalborg BK (Denmark), FC Salzburg (Austria), Celtic (Scotland), Olympiacos FC (Greece) and RSC Anderlecht (Belgium).
• Ajax (1992) are among 11 former UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners in the round of 32, and one of six round of 32 contenders who have also lifted the European Cup or UEFA Champions League.
• Ajax coach since 2010, Frank de Boer claimed five league titles, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League as a player with the Amsterdam club, with the defender and his twin brother Ronald then scooping a Spanish championship at Barcelona in 1998/99. He has now steered his old team to four straight Eredivisie crowns.
• Henning Berg took charge of Legia at the start of 2014. The former Blackburn Rovers FC, Manchester United FC and Rangers FC defender was capped 100 times by Norway. As a coach, he has held the reins at FK Lyn, Lillestrøm SK and – for just 57 days – Blackburn.