Wednesday, September 15, 2010



On paper we have a game between two traditionally attack minded teams, who like to entertain and play the beautiful game. However, Ajax on their return to the Champions League group stage after five years absence, arrive without the suspended Luis Suarez and key defender Jan Vertonghen and coach Martin Jol seems likely to try and give his back line a little more protection and sacrifice one of his normal three front men. So, if you like, in some strange way I do not see the absence of the Uruguayan striker, who made such a big impact at the World Cup, as necessarily crucial. Of course, I would prefer he was playing, but they signed another prolific hitman in Mounir El Hamdouai from AZ , where he scored 50 goals in 81 appearances and he will get his chance to shine tonight with the spotlight all to himself, after making a strong start alongside Suarez. The visitors have been the best side in the Netherlands over the past 12 months, are unbeaten in nine of those and are 15-2-0 in their last 17 league starts. They have also battled through two rounds of CL qualification including a very tough tie with Dynamo Kiev and arrive here the more match fit of the two.

Real have only played two games under new coach Jose Mourinho, a 0-0 draw at Mallorca and a laboured 1-0 home win over Osasuna. The Special One will always do things his own way and is determined to get things right defensively first, however much that might annoy and frustrate the Bernabeu faithful, who have lived on a diet of all out attacking football for over half a century. He will be happy with a win of any sort tonight and 1-0 will do him just fine, it is worthwhile noting that Inter opened with three draws in their CL group last season, before going on to take the title and Jose knows that nothing will be decided tonight. He has bought in half a team, some of whom know how he likes to play, but the rest are still "learning" and Real are currently a work in progress. Having said that, even Mourinho will not be given too long a period of grace, so sooner rather than later, he will have to start winning "the right way". However, we can expect these two to be quite cautious from the start this evening and the visitors to be well ahead in terms of fitness, they should get a chance to play themselves into the match and I have to take them getting such a big handicap start.

Ajax +1.5 goals 1.93 + .

Good Luck.

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