Champions League news

Overmars eyeing Barcelona upset

September 17, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Marc Overmars says he hopes his current club Ajax can do as Celtic did last year and topple his former team Barcelona in their Champions League group H clash on Wednesday evening.

Marc Overmars played for Ajax and Barcelona during his career.
PA PhotosMarc Overmars wants Ajax to emulate Celtic's performance against Barcelona.

• Tomas: Cruyff's priorities

Overmars knows both clubs well as he came to prominence at Ajax, and later spent four years at the Camp Nou as a player, before returning to work as director of football at the Amsterdam Arena.

The now 40-year-old told Mundo Deportivo that he knew an Ajax win was unlikely, but the Dutch side could win if they played a ‘perfect’ game.

“Of every ten games which Barca and Ajax play, Ajax would only win one,” Overmars said. “But we will give everything so that it is this one. Celtic would be similar to us, and they won. We must do everything we know to perfection, be clinical in the last metres and hope that the luck is with us.”

Wednesday’s game is also the first competitive meeting of the two clubs which marked the career of legendary Dutch attacker Johan Cruyff. But what might have been a celebratory occasion has been marred by public rowing between Cruyff and current blaugrana president Sandro Rosell.

Cruyff -- who has said he hopes Ajax win the game -- was a singular individual who had to be taken on his own terms, Overmars said.

“First you must say that he has a unique form of thinking, original, so sometimes he surprises,” the former winger said. “But to us he explains himself directly, we meet him regularly.”

Another man who played for both clubs -- current Ajax coach Frank de Boer -- had a big future in the game, Overmars said.

“Tactically, he is very good,” he said. “Above all in positional play. He has a great control of the situation, he transmits stability, confidence, calm. He is also a good communicator. He will go to a bigger team when he wants. He is a great coach, but he wants to stay with us. When he feels that his time at Ajax is over, I am sure he will have big offers.”

Ajax were no longer concerned about their former playmaker Christian Eriksen, who joined Tottenham for €13.5 million late in the summer transfer window, said former Arsenal player Overmars.

“We do not think about it,” he said. “Life goes on at Ajax, we sell many, many players. Back in the day [Dennis] Bergkamp left, [Jari] Litmanen arrived and we won the European Cup.”

Ajax latest attacking starlet Viktor Fischer needed a few more seasons to develop before he took a step up in his career, Overmars suggested.

“It is early, [Fischer] is just 19,” he said. “He needs two more years to mature, but he has extraordinary potential. He has quality, versatility to play also as an ‘interior’ midfielder, and a strong personality.”

Asked for a prediction, Overmars tipped Borussia Dortmund to go one better than last season, and win this year’s Champions League trophy.

“I would bet on Borussia Dortmund,” he said. “Last year I already said that, and people thought it was because we had them in our group. And they reached the final. Now I think the same. As a team, they are the strongest.”

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