Ryan Babel is eagerly anticipating Ajax’s Champions League encounter at home against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
The attacker, who returned to Ajax this summer after spells with Liverpool and Hoffenheim, believes it is crucial for the Eredivisie champions to try and play their own game versus the La Liga giants, and is hoping to spring a surprise.
“We have to try and play our own game. Real Madrid are obviously a strong team and we will try to exploit their weaknesses, but we have to stay true to our own philosophy,” Babel told Goal.com.
“You never know what will happen if we’re on top of our game. Real Madrid are used to playing against teams that sit deep and defend in numbers. Perhaps we can spring a surprise if we play our own game.”
Babel has good memories of Real Madrid as he beat the Spanish giants 5-0 on aggregate in the 2008-09 Champions League round of 16 while under contract with Liverpool.
“They had a completely different team back then, but we outclassed Real Madrid in both legs. We outplayed them at Anfield and at the Santiago Bernabeu. We were a lot quicker and physically stronger with Liverpool,” he said.
Ajax have been struggling to make an impact in the Champions League in recent years and lost their opening game against Borussia Dortmund 1-0.
Babel realises there is a big difference between playing in the Eredivisie and in Europe, and has called for focus ahead of the match against Madrid.
“Teams like Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are much more direct. The pace of the game is much higher and you try to prepare for that,” he said.
“Everybody is doing a lot of running and is always on the move. The type of game that’s played is much more unpredictable.”