AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Ajax Amsterdam are refusing to read anything into the heavy defeat suffered by their Champions League opponents Rangers in Saturday’s Old Firm clash.
Results over the weekend in their respective domestic leagues could not have been more contrasting. While Ajax maintained their 100% start to the new Eredivisie season by hammering Cambuur Leeuwarden 4-0, Rangers were on the receiving end of a thrashing from Old Firm rivals Celtic by the same score.
Ajax coach Alfred Schreuder, however, did not want to take anything for granted ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League Group A clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
“We’ll have to be at our best to beat them,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Schreuder watched the loss to Celtic as well as Rangers’ two-legged triumph over PSV Eindhoven in last month’s playoff round for a berth in the Champions League group stage.
“The Old Firm game was not a good standard for us to analyse Rangers. In Glasgow I thought PSV had the upper hand, but in Eindhoven, Rangers played a good game,” the Ajax coach said.
“That is more of an indicator for us. They have an idea about how and what they want to create. They put organised pressure on the opponent and I think they will try that with us at the beginning as well. They like to build up and always try to get an extra man in midfield.”
Ajax have won five out of five in the Dutch league and are two points clear at the top. Schreuder said his side were not yet approaching top form but he was seeing progress.
“The Champions League is a new challenge. This is a different kind of competition. I am curious about how we are going to do.”
With Liverpool and Napoli still to face in the group, Schreuder agreed a winning start was important for Ajax on Wednesday.
“We have to play for the win. And we must also radiate that, with respect for the opponent,” he added.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)