Paris Saint-Germain are on top of group F with seven points in three games, Barcelona and Ajax have six and two points respectively in three games, while APOEL are last in the group with just one point.
Barcelona will look to avoid a third successive defeat when they face Ajax. Barca have lost their last two league matches with defeats to Real Madrid and Celta Vigo in the La Liga. Barcelona’s last trip to Holland was in last year’s Champions League game when they lost to Ajax 2-1. Barcelona could secure a place in the knockout phase of Champions League with a win over Ajax.
Luis Suarez is set to make his Champions League debut for Barcelona and also named in the squad is Gerard Pique who returns after missing the weekend defeat. However, Barcelona will be without Jeremy Mathieu who picked up a calf injury in the defeat to Celta Vigo, Andres Iniesta will also miss the game with a calf problem and Jordi Alba is struggling with a muscular complaint. Marc Bartra is favourite to start in central defence alongside Javier Mascherano despite Pique is available in the squad.
Ajax are still winless in the Group F after their 3-1 defeat at Barcelona last time out. Another defeat for Ajax would leave them on the brink of elimination. They have just two points from their three group matches but their home record against Spanish teams is strong. Ajax will enter the match off the back of a 4-0 win over Urk in the Dutch Cup. Ajax are expected to be without midfielder Thulani Sereno and Viktor Fischer is still unavailable for the Dutch outfit, meaning that Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Lasse Schone and Arkadiusz Milik should all start.
Ajax manager Frank de Boer, is certain his side can compete with Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
“It’s most important to maintain the ball and the pressing, in Barcelona we didn’t do that. We have to think that it will be the best match of our lives – last year we didn’t give them time to breathe. My players aren’t afraid of playing against Messi, Neymar and Suarez, and I’m convinced they will prove that.”
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is optimistic going into the game against Ajax even though he admitted that “there is always pressure”.
“I expect a tough Ajax. We have to remember that last year they beat us and they will be as difficult as always. That’s what I am expecting. There is always pressure. In this club there is always pressure. We are used to it and we know it. It is important to win this match, to take a step towards the next round. We’d like to take on the next games more relaxed. The players are very calm and relaxed independent of the defeats. Our objective is the same as always: to dominate the game and create more chances than our opponent. I would like the team to be unpredictable but I would also like them to be the stronger team in every game.”
• Ajax have failed to win their last eight Champions League games, their last away win was in Zagreb in October 2011.
• Frank de Boer and Luis Enrique will be rival managers on Tuesday night but they played together for Barcelona between 1999 and 2003.
• Ajax’s Joël Veltman will incur a suspension with his next booking.
• Luis Suarez made 110 appearances for Ajax between 2007 and 2011, scoring 81 goals.
Possible starting lineups:
Ajax : Jasper Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Niklas Moisander, Veltman, Nick Viergever; Lucas Andersen, Davy Klaassen, Niki Zimling; Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Lasse Schone, Arkadiusz Milik
Ajax 1 – 2 Barcelona
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images