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Babel defends Ajax´s chances

Ryan Babel has quashed the notion Ajax have already lost their Champions League opener with Borussia Dortmund.

The German champions are heavily favoured to overcome the Eredivisie holders on Tuesday, with the luxury of home advantage playing into the hands of Juergen Klopp’s charges.

Nonetheless, Babel, who returned to Ajax on transfer deadline day in August, ispositive about his side’s prospects, but insisted they must be clinical in their approach.

“Our squad has a lot of experience in the Champions League,” the former Liverpool man told reporters.

“We have not lost in advance. There are opportunities awaiting us and we must exploit them.”

However, the Netherlands international’s view is not shared by Johan Cruyff, who believes the Amsterdam giants will suffer a disappointing fate in Group D against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City, as well as Dortmund.

“This year, I have mixed feelings in the Champions League,” Cruyff wrote in his column for De Telegraaf.

“Of course it’s nice that Ajax play against the champions of Spain, England and Germany.

“But at the same time, you realise that it is very difficult for the club to qualify for the knockout stages.”

Cruyff also reflected on the fall from grace Ajax have endured since their appearance in the final of the 1996 competition, when they lost to Juventus on penalties.

“This situation is mainly caused because Ajax were placed in the third pot of the draw,” he said.

“Over the last 17 years something clearly went wrong.

“How can it happen that a team that won the Champions League in 1995, and in the final again a year later, now find themselves in the third pot?”

Tue 18 September, 2012
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