AJAX coach Martin Jol has hailed the returning Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the “best striker in the world” with the Swede set to spearhead the AC Milan attack at the ArenA tonight.
Ibrahimovic spent three-and-a-half years at Ajax before spells at Juventus, Inter Milan and Barcelona. He is now back in Italy and has made a promising start to his second spell at the San Siro with Inter’s cross-city rivals AC Milan.
Jol is certainly wary of the impact Ibrahimovic could make against his men as they look to bounce back from losing 2-0 to Real Madrid in their Group G opener.
He said: “It will not be easy as AC Milan and Real Madrid are at the same level. Ibrahimovic is the best striker in the world. In addition, Robinho is unpredictable and you know what Ronaldinho can do when he gets time on the ball.
“It will be hard but we are at home, at the ArenA and we don’t lose there often. We will have to play like we did in the first half against FC Twente on Saturday. We have a chance.”
Jol will have midfielders Rasmus Lindgren and Eyong Enoh available after both men were passed fit.
There is not such good news for Jol’s Milan counterpart Massimiliano Allegri, who is without Alexandre Pato and Massimo Ambrosini. Allegri said: “Our match against Ajax is very important, it will be a tricky game.
“They are strong at home, they’re a good team with a lot of good, young skilled players.”
Real Madrid resume their Champions League campaign against Auxerre determined to rediscover their goalscoring touch at Stade de l’Abbe-Deschamps. Although they are still unbeaten under Jose Mourinho with four wins from six competitive games, Real are surprisingly finding goals hard to come.
Madrid netted over 100 times in La Liga alone last season but they have struck just eight times in the league and Champions League this season.
Mourinho, who has started with the attacking quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil in the last four games, admits it is a concern: “We created so many chances, some very good, and obviously I’m worried because you need to score to win.
“There is no problem tactically, but we aren’t scoring. That’s my only concern.”
In Chelsea’s Group F, Aiden McGeady will be hoping to continue his recent good form for Spartak Moscow as the Russia side host Slovakian side Zilina.
McGeady netted his first goal for Spartak last weekend as he scored unconventionally with his belly and will be hoping for more goals. “It was funny to score with my belly,” said the Irish winger. “I didn’t ever score this way before. I’m hungry for goals and for playing as I had a long break without football. And I hope to gain my top form in near future.”
In Arsenal’s Group H, Braga host Shakhtar Donetsk. Shakhtar have won on two of their last three visits to Portugal.
In Group E, Roma host Cluj, and boss Claudio Ranieri has warned his side, who lost their opening group fixture against Bayern Munich, that to avoid a repeat they must not underestimate their opponents.
The former Chelsea and Juve boss said: “Teams who haven’t played in the Champions League much have this willingness, this determination and motivation,” he said. “While you may have more technical qualities or play in a tougher league, the gap is getting smaller.”
Bayern Munich travel to Swiss side Basle with confirmation yesterday that coach Louis van Gaal has extended his contract until 2012.
The 59-year-old has only signed a 12-month extension to the deal which was due to expire next summer since he intends to become the coach of a national team after Euro 2012. “I am glad that I will be staying in Munich for a further year,” he said.
“We have started something here I would like to continue.”
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