BARCELONA (Reuters) - Facing Barcelona is an opportunity for Ajax to learn and realise the level they need to play at to be successful in Europe, the Dutch side's coach Frank de Boer said on Monday.
Both clubs have won the European Cup four times and yet Ajax take on the Catalan side in the Champions League on Tuesday with the aim of gaining experience such is their present difference in resources.
“It will be difficult to pick up points but we will go out with confidence and we will give 100 percent,” De Boer told a news conference at the Camp Nou ahead of the Group F match.
While Barca’s budget this season is 539 million euros (425.35 million pounds) and they brought in Luis Suarez for 81 million euros ($103.5 million) from Liverpool, Ajax sold Daley Blind to Manchester United and rely on developing youth players.
“It is normal that Barca have more quality and more experience but we need to learn to play these games and to see what level that they are at. (Ajax) are young players and they have to find out what the level of the Champions League is like.”
Ajax are second in the Dutch championship and had to come from behind with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scoring to give them a 1-1 draw away to Twente Enschede on Saturday.
In Europe, they have drawn their two games so far and have a point less than Barcelona who are looking to bounce back after losing to Paris Saint-Germain in their last outing.
Last season they beat Barca at home in the group stage and De Boer believes that the ability of his players means that they can still spring a surprise.
“I hope we see our best football and show what we can do, and play well. They are Ajax players and have an undoubted quality. The opposition are strong and they must show that quality,” he said.
Against Barca we cannot commit errors but after the recent results in the Champions League both sides have pressure. They want a good result and so do we.”
Former Ajax striker Suarez will miss the game but could make his debut for Barcelona in El Clasico against Real Madrid at the weekend when his four-month ban for biting ends.
De Boer believes Suarez has the ability and desire to form a lethal partnership with Lionel Messi and Neymar.
“They will have to show that they can play together but I think it will work out. Luis is a fighter and a worker and he wants to score goals like Messi and Neymar,” he said.
“His behaviour (in the biting incident at the World Cup) was very bad and it was very bad for his career. Some people will always remember him as a bad person but normally he is a very good guy off the pitch as well as a good player.
“I am glad he is at Barcelona as he deserves it for the progression he has shown since he was at Groningen.”
Editing by Rex Gowar