Captain Dusan Tadic and trainer Erik ten Hag think that Ajax ended up in a nice and challenging group at the draw of the Champions League on Thursday. The players from Amsterdam play against Chelsea, Valencia and Lille.
"A strong group, where everyone has a chance. There is no outspoken favorite," Tadic says in an initial response to Ajax's website.
"Of course we are going for European wintering. A club like Ajax must be ambitious," says the Serbian, who was too strong for the Cypriot APOEL with his club on Wednesday in the play-offs.
As the Europa League winner, Chelsea has been placed directly for the Champions League group stage. Valencia (fourth in Spain) and Lille (second in France) also did not have to play preliminary rounds.
"I know Chelsea well," says Tadic. "I have played with them for years with Southampton and have generally achieved good results against them. They have taken a new path with the new coach Frank Lampard. It is a good footballing team."
Lampard has a difficult start with Chelsea and is only thirteenth in the Premier League after three matches. The club was not allowed to buy players due to a penalty from FIFA and saw star player Eden Hazard leave for Real Madrid.
Tadic is also looking forward to the Valencia and Lille duels. "Valencia is a good name to meet. A strong team, with Marcelino as a good coach."
The Ajax player follows Lille because his former teammate at Southampton plays José Fonte there. "He is a good friend of mine. Lille is a good team, last year they won 5-1 against Paris Saint-Germain."
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Ten Hag is looking forward to beautiful stadiums
Trainer Ten Hag, who led Ajax to the semi-finals last year, thinks that the four teams in group H are about the same strength. "Last year we had a clear favorite with Bayern Munich and AEK Athens was a weaker team. Now the relationships seem very equal," Ten Hag told ANP . "Everyone can beat each other."
If Ten Hag has to appoint a favorite, he chooses Chelsea. "The intensity in the Premier League is so high. But in Spain they can play well and Lille also just ends second in a physically very strong competition. We will have to run a fantastic campaign if we want to hibernate."
"An advantage is that we don't have to travel far," said Ten Hag. "I count on a lot of support from our fans. We are also going to beautiful stadiums: Mestalla and Stamford Bridge. And Lille has a new stadium."
The first round of the Champions League is on 17 and 18 September. It is not yet known which club is the first opponent of Ajax.
See also: Ajax meets Chelsea, Valencia and Lille in the Champions League