FC Barcelona is playing AFC Ajax Amsterdam in Holland, and despite last year’s loss, Barça will be coming out the gates with fire in their eyes, especially considering a loss would drastically change the face of this group. Also, a certain Uruguayan will be making his Champions League debut against his second European club with a point to prove, having missed out on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Ahead of the fourth round in the UEFA Champions League group stage, FC Barcelona is the only team of its group that has performed consistently in the last couple of games in their domestic leagues. With an overwhelming balance of eleven wins, one tie and zero defeats (34 points out of a possible 36), manager Gerardo Martino is doing a great job in his first four months at the helm of FC Barcelona. The same can not be said about Barcelona’s rivals in group H of the Champions League, as Barça was the only team winning their game over the weekend.
Bojan Krkić (23) will return to the Camp Nou on Wednesday as an Ajax player. It will be his second game against his former team as some months ago he faced Barça in the Milan jersey. Bojan, currently on loan, is very excited for the UEFA Champions Leauge group stage game at the Camp Nou.
“Barça are the club that have given me everything, an education in football since I was a child. I learned a lot of things and they [Barça] gave me the chance to make my debut in the football elite, to be a professional footballer,” he said. Bojan, however, also underlined that “when you play football there are no feelings. You defend the kit you’re wearing, the club and the fans for those 90 minutes of play, so you have to give it your all. Feelings are for before and after a match, but you have to be strong when you play.”
FC Barcelona forward Isaac Cuenca (21) completed a loan move to Ajax on Thursday that will see the La Masia youth at the Dutch club until June 30. The left winger had only recently received his medical clearance after an injury that saw him sidelined for eight months.
Jordi Roura helped to inform Tito Vilanova, who remains in New York City, throughout the operation on the final day of the January transfer window, which was primarily carried out through FC Barcelona Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta, Director of Football Raúl Sanllehí, and Ajax Sporting Director Marc Overmars, who wore the blaugrana colors from 2000-2004.
FC Barcelona Juvenil A vs. Ajax, NextGen Series Quarterfinals
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 @ 18:30 Barcelona time – Convert to local time
Venue: Miniestadi, Barcelona (Capacity: 15,276)
After a three month break, the NextGen Series is back, with a quarterfinal match between Barça’s Juvenil A and Ajax. Just one game will determine who advances, with the winner of this match set to face Liverpool in the semi-finals. A bit of team news and streams to watch the game can be found after the jump.
Former FC Barcelona coaches Johann Cruyff (1988-1996) and Louis Van Gaal (1997-2000, 2002-2003) have never kept secret their disdain for one another. The former AFC Ajax players have been at odds for months regarding Van Gaal’s backroom appointment as CEO at the Amsterdam club. Cruyff, who serves on the five-member supervisory board at the club, was reportedly left in the dark regarding his nemesis’ appointment during a meeting in which Cruyff was not present. Cruyff appealed to a Dutch court, who ruled Tuesday that Ajax could not appoint the former Bayern Munich manager as a director based on the fact that the decision was not on the agenda for that particular meeting, a critical detail Cruyff openly objected to.
FC Barcelona’s Juvenil A side, also known as the under-19s, will be facing Ajax Amsterdam during the quarter finals of the NextGen Series tournament, also known as the U-19 Champions League.
Juvenil A, currently coached by ex-Barça player Oscar Garcia, will face the Dutch club in January at the Miniestadi.
Luis Suarez scored two goals for Ajax Amsterdam over AZ Alkmaar (2-4) on Sunday to take his tally to 15 this season after 11 rounds of matches in the Netherland’s Eredivisie, according to Catalan paper El Mundo Deportivo. That mark has made the Uruguayan the most prolific scorer of the 15 most powerful leagues in Europe according to UEFA ranking. Having begun in March and with 26 rounds of matches played, the Russian League is not included the ranking. If it has, the Brazilian Welligton (Spartak Moscow) would have led the ranking with 19 goals.
At this rate, Suarez is on track to succeed his compatriot Diego Forlan in the list of winners of the Golden Boot. He has currently accumulated a total of 22.5 points (in the Netherlands every goal is multiplied by 1.5), with Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Antonio di Natale (Udinese) and former Espanyolista Nene (Monaco) a close second with 9 goals and 18 points.