Ajax to provide stern test for sluggish Real
Real Madrid are under pressure to entertain their demanding fans at home to Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League on Wednesday after impatient whistling greeted Saturday's uninspiring 1-0 La Liga win over Osasuna.sports Updated: Sep 15, 2010 03:10 IST
Real Madrid are under pressure to entertain their demanding fans at home to Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League on Wednesday after impatient whistling greeted Saturday's uninspiring 1-0 La Liga win over Osasuna.
The other important matches of the evening include English club Arsenal playing Portugal’s SC Braga while Chelsea take on Slovak champions MSK Zilina.
The frustration of the Real faithful, still waiting to see the fruits of 350 million euros ($448 million) of investment, was plain when the players and new coach Jose Mourinho trooped off after a goalless first half.
Captain Iker Casillas asked for patience and forward Cristiano Ronaldo said it was not always possible to put on a show.
“It would be better if people helped motivate us, but everyone is entitled to express themselves how they want,” he added.
“All of us in the stadium want the best for Real Madrid and together was can make a team that is more feared at home.”
Real's unprecedented spending spree is chiefly aimed at ending a poor Champions League run over the past six seasons, during which the nine-times winners have failed to progress beyond the last 16.
President Florentino Perez told Real's general assembly on Sunday he would not rest until a 10th European title had been secured.
Perez described Mourinho, who led Inter Milan to three major trophies last season including the Champions League, as “a born winner”.
“We have not spared any effort to put Real Madrid back in its rightful place and in the best shape to achieve a great goal, the real challenge of winning a 10th Champions League,” Perez said.
Ajax will have other ideas on their first appearance in Europe's elite club competition since 2005-06, although the four-times winners will miss their captain, the prolific Uruguay striker Luis Suarez who is suspended.
Suarez netted 35 goals in the Dutch championship last season and said it hurt not being able to play in the opening Group G clash.
“I'll save my goals for the return match in Amsterdam,” he said in an interview published in Spanish sports daily Marca.
The inexperience of some of the Ajax players may count against them, he cautioned.
“Ajax is an attacking team but one that can also play deep if the match requires it,” Suarea said. “If we go to the Bernabeu with a suicidal plan we could lose easily.”
Serie A side AC Milan, the seven-times winners, and French club Auxerre complete Group G.
Bayern look to end goal drought
Berlin: Bayern Munich know they must end their goal drought when they host AS Roma in their opening Champions League group match on Wednesday if they are to avoid putting themselves under pressure again.
Last year, the German club got into a tight corner in the group stage of the competition and had to win their final two matches to escape an early exit. They made it through and eventually lost to Inter Milan in the final.
Bayern, who drew 0-0 at home to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday, have scored just two goals in three league matches, and none since Aug. 20.
“There does not seem to be a logical explanation for this (lack of goals),” said Mueller.
The Bavarians faced early problems this season, with players who had taken part in the World Cup having a shortened preparation time and winger Arjen Robben being ruled out injured until the end of the year.
“We definitely did not have a perfect pre-season training. But this needs to change now,” Mueller said.
Bayern will also be without playmaker Franck Ribery, serving out the remainder of a three-match ban following a straight red card in last season’s Champions League semi-final against Olympique Lyon.
Claudio Ranieri’s Roma side were hammered 5-1 at Cagliari on Saturday in their second Serie A game. The injury-prone Totti was taken off with the Bayern game in mind, although he is now a slight doubt because of an intestinal virus.
Brazilian striker Adriano was one notable name brought in for the Bayern game. Left back John Arne Riise is not fit, while defender Philippe Mexes, midfielder Rodrigo Taddei and forward Mirko Vucinic will not make the trip due to injuries.
First Published: Sep 15, 2010 03:05 IST