“Today, I literally listed this pool”, commented Ajax captain Siem de Jong after Thursday evening’s draw. His team finds itself coupled with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. “To go further, we would have wanted to avoid these teams”, said De Jong. “We couldn’t have gotten a tougher draw.”
Nonetheless, Ajax’s captain looks forward to these top level matches. “All three of them are great clubs, the champions from the strongest European competitions. The only shame is that we’re playing Real Madrid for the third year in a row. I would have liked to draw a club other than Madrid. I’ve seen enough Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund games to have a good knowledge of the clubs.”
Each year, Ajax calculates beforehand where there could be points to be had. The tables are turned now, considering that the Amsterdam based team is most likely the club against which the others feel that they will be able to bring home points. “If we can leave one team behind us and earn a spot in the Europa League, that would be very good. It’s a very difficult assignment. But last year, we played reasonably well at home and we had two goal disqualified against Real Madrid. We would have played to 2-2 otherwise. We have to hope that we have a good day, and our opponent has a bad one. But we go into every match to win, not to get as few goals against as possible. We have nothing to lose.”
The emphasis of this Champions League will thus be for the young players to enjoy the atmosphere as much as possible. “The three opponents’ stadiums are big, and the matches will truly be alive. We experienced how great that is at Manchester last year. I’ve already had several requests for tickets come in. I’m excited!” says De Jong, who for now must first prepare for the upcoming competition match. On Sunday, a match against sc Heerenveen awaits.