Ajax hoping for reprise of victorious Vienna night

Alex Kirk
Monday 13 January 2014 04:25
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Ajax and Milan's Champions' League quarter-final, first leg in Amsterdam tonight will see the sides facing each other for the first time in competitive action since the 1995 final.

Then, on a nervous May night in Vienna, Patrick Kluivert's goal in the 85th minute was enough to give Ajax the trophy. It was the third time that the Dutch club had beaten their rivals that season, with Ajax winning 2-0 in two group stage meetings. The two clubs also met in the 1969 final, which Milan won 4-1.

Despite a young squad boasting some of Europe's finest prospects, this latest Ajax team, double winners in the Netherlands last season, have proved they can live with the best by coming through Group B, a pool that also featured fellow quarter-finalists Valencia along with Arsenal and Roma.

The Dutch side had a comfortable weekend as they beat lowly RBC Roosendaal 4-1 in Amsterdam.

Milan approach the match knowing that the Serie A title is slipping out of their grasp. Despite beating Juventus 2-1 last month, they now trail the league leaders by eight points and their hopes of winning the scudetto were dealt another blow with a 1-0 defeat at Parma at the weekend.

Ajax have a striker crisis with Wamberto and Victor Sikora out injured, although Jari Litmanen should be fit. The Ajax coach, Ronald Koeman, will probably have to name Jamal Akachar on the bench. The 20-year-old Moroccan forward left Ajax's youth squad a few years ago to make his living as a taxi driver, but is now back pursuing a professional career.

Milan could be without Filippo Inzaghi, who has flu. Jon Dahl Tomasson is on standby. The Portuguese playmaker Rui Costa is expected to move to the right of midfield, as Carlo Ancelotti returns to the 4-4-2 formation he used to beat Juventus. Alessandro Costacurta takes the place of the injured defender Kakha Kaladze.

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