Ajax trained on Tuesday night in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Ajax got to know one of the most famous stadiums in the world. Mostly empty, the football temple already pushes to play great football, and all the more during a Champions League opening.
Exactly how many Spaniards will come out to see Real Madrid play Ajax on Wednesday is still anyone’s guess. Martin Jol’s men are assured of 1.400 of their fans in the visitors’ stand. A fine Champions League debut awaits Martin Jol and his players.
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“We should enjoy the atmosphere”, said Martin Jol during the press conference, in the 80.000 seat Bernabéu stadium. “We achieved this goal (reaching the Champions League group phase) by a detour. The selection of clubs we are playing in the group phase is a sort of bonus. It’s a fantastic experience for the young players. It’s very special for me, too. Real Madrid has, after Ajax, the nicest kit. The club appeals to me, I truly mean that.” To the room of football journalists: “It’s also a great experience for you all, as journalists, to be here.”
Eyong Enoh was at his coach’s side. The Cameroon native was in attendance at the press conference. “It’s amazing to play our first Champions League match at Real Madrid”, said the midfielder. “Real Madrid is one of the top clubs in the world. It’s remarkable to start against a club of their stature.”
The Ajax coach didn’t give anything away regarding the playing strategy for Wednesday night. Jol must work around pillars Luis Suarez and Jan Vertonghen’s suspensions. Earlier, he was able to use the Uruguayan and the Belgian for national matches. “It’s the first time that this is happening to us at this level”, continues Jol. “We’ll see. In any case, we’re motivated.”
The topic of conversation turned to José Mourinho. The Special One – as he refers to himself – is Real Madrid’s coach as of this season. The Portuguese trainer has speculated that since Ajax has played more games this season, that they have the advantage. Jol: “Perhaps we’re further, perhaps not. I’m not sure if Mourinho is playing games, but if he is, it’s not necessary. He has top players at his disposal. But I think I understand what he means.”
Jol got to know Mourinho a bit during their time in England. As Tottenham’s manager, Jol sparred with Mourinho, who at the time was the top man at Chelsea. “I met him a few times. He can be a very outgoing, jovial man. Especially having both worked in England, there’s a connection.”
Real Madrid and Ajax play their first Champions League group match on Wednesday at 8.45p.m. Last season, Mourinho won the most important European club prize with Internazionale. The Portuguese native is both coach and defending champion. Jol has a big task ahead if he wants to surprise the title holder.
Keep an eye on Ajax.nl and Ajax TV for the latest news from Madrid.