Ajax v Real Madrid preview
Real Madrid will be looking to take another step towards qualifying for the last 16 when they take on an Ajax side aiming to get off the mark in Group D.
Last Updated: 03/10/12 11:25am
Real Madrid will be looking to take another step towards qualifying for the last 16 when they take on an Ajax side aiming to get off the mark in UEFA Champions League Group D.
Jose Mourinho's side have been drawn to face the Dutch giants for a third consecutive year in the competition and have every reason to be confident having triumphed in all four matches from the previous two years.
A 3-0 win at the Bernabeu was followed by an identical score at the Amsterdam Arena last year, making the Spanish outfit heavy favourites heading into Wednesday's encounter in Holland.
France international Benzema insists they are not thinking that way and must perform to their full potential against last season's Eredivisie champions.
"Each year the team changes, the mindset isn't the same. We know that it will be hard against Ajax because everybody wants to beat Real Madrid," Benzema told the club's official website.
"That always happens; we must prepare the game well and show our level."
Real look to have overcome their early season struggles having won their last three matches - a run which started with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Manchester City in their opening Champions League encounter.
De Boer confident
They will be at full strength at the Amsterdam Arena, but Ajax coach Frank de Boer is confident his side can reverse their fortunes against Mourinho's men.
The former defender can hardly be encouraged by his side's run that has also seen them draw a blank in each of those four defeats.
"The matches are still at the back of my mind," he told a press conference.
"Last year we had opportunities, we had more possession, more shots on goal than Real Madrid but they were very effective in possession. We don't have that quality."
Robert Lewandowski's 87th-minute goal condemned Ajax to a 1-0 defeat in this year's opener at Borussia Dortmund.
However, Christian Poulsen was heartened by their display at the Westfalenstadion and is convinced they can take the positives into Wednesday.
"In Dortmund we did many things right. But the fact is that we have zero points. The next step is to get results," said the former Liverpool midfielder.
"We must have faith and bring the things that went well in Dortmund to the game against Real Madrid.
"There we had missed opportunities. We must do better, but we create chances in any case. That gives us confidence."
De Boer has no new injury concerns and is expected to keep faith with the same team that beat FC Twente at the weekend, with Thulani Serero and Kolnbeinn Sigthorsson still ruled out.
South African midfielder Serero continues to struggle with a groin injury while Sigthorsson is sidelined with a shoulder problem.
Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa are likely to be recalled to the Madrid starting line-up for the visit to the Amsterdam Arena.
Midfielder Alonso and defender Arbeloa were both on the bench for the 5-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna in a bid to keep them fresh for the European outing.
Karim Benzema could replace Gonzalo Higuain in attack while Luka Modric is in line to make his first Champions League start for the club.