Ronald Koeman has faith in Ajax's chances in the UEFA Champions League match against Celta de Vigo on Wednesday. As usual, Ajax will try to attack where possible. Koeman expects Celta de Vigo to play a bit more defensively than normal. The coach also expressed his faith in the abilities of Jelle van Damme, who will probably replace the injured Julien Escusdé as the team's left central defender.
,,It is a disappointment that we lost Escudé for the match'', Ronald Koeman declared on Tuesday. ,,Jelle van Damme is a player who could replace him. He can play as a central defender or a left back. We as coaching staff expect that in time he will play central defender permanently. Tomorrow he will get a chance to show what he can do there. I also prefer to play with a left-footed and a right-footed player in the centre.'' With Petri Pasanen as the other central defender, the coach has what he wants on that position.
Koeman praised Van Damme's defensive abilities. ,,He always gets to the ball, albeit with one toe. He just has to get better on offence. But he has developed well with Ajax and has already played in the Champions League. He is fit, trains well, is young and also a Belgian intyernational. He can even become much better so I have no problem letting him play.''
Ronald Koeman thinks Celta de Vigo will slightly adapt their playing style. ,,Normally they play a 'Christmas-tree style'. But I think they will change that somewhat, they are a bit more careful than we are. We will attack where possible. Celta have some players who can head the ball well and who can take a good free kick. But we expect to be able to defend against that. I think they will play for a draw. The will let us make the match and hope that there will be room for them to counter attack. It will not be an easy match.''
Mostovoi is according to the coach one of the most dangerous players of the Spanish side. ,,He has great moves, good skills and scoring ability. Celta also have a few 'killers', which makes them a complete team. The fact that they are having a difficult time in the Spanish league could be to our advantage, but I don't think so. We must not be overconfident. Celta kept Valencia and Barcelona out of the UEFA Champions League. They can play good football and we will have to be in good form to beat them. But we are confident. If we win, it will be a fantastic step toward the second round. It would be good if we could get four points out of the next two matches.''
Ajax are looking forward to the match. ,,We are not afraid. We want to show that we belong in Europe. And we have shown that already. If you're on good form, there are many ways to play Celta de Vigo'', Koeman said.
Besides Julien Escudé, John O'Brien, Johnny Heitinga, Wamberto, Anthony Obodai and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg are not part of the squad. Zdenek Grygera is still doubtful. ,,I will have to sleep on that'', said Koeman. ,,I don't know if we can take the risk of playing him, especially with our match on Sunday against PSV.'' Captain Jari Litmanen will return to the squad after a long time.