• FT

    Milan

    2

    Celtic

    0

  • FT

    Atletico

    3

    Zenit

    1

  • FT

    Vienna

    0

    FC Porto

    1

  • FT

    Barcelona

    4

    Ajax

    0

  • FT

    Chelsea

    1

    FC Basel

    2

  • FT

    Marseille

    1

    Arsenal

    2

  • FT

    Napoli

    2

    Dortmund

    1

  • FT

    Schalke 04

    3

    Steaua

    0

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Camp Nou, Spain

Attendance: 95500

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Barcelona

  • Lionel Messi 22'
  • Lionel Messi 55'
  • Gerard Piqué 69'
  • Lionel Messi 75'

4 - 0

FT

Barca and Ajax set for maiden meet

Two of world football's legendary names will cross swords for the very first time on Wednesday as Barcelona play host to Ajax in their Champions League Group H opener.

Given their perennial involvement in European competition it is more than a little surprising that these powerhouses of the game have never met in a competitive fixture, but all of that will change when the players step out at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.

Although strangers on the pitch, the links between the two clubs run deep, with some of Holland's biggest stars having graced Barca's ranks in years gone by.

Three-time world player of the year Johan Cruyff quit Ajax to join Barca in 1973 before going on to coach the Catalans to their first ever European Cup triumph at Wembley in 1992.

Cruyff was the first of 14 Ajax players to have signed for Barca down the years, although it is far from a one-way street with six players moving in the other direction, the most recent deal seeing Bojan Krkic move to the Amsterdam Arena on loan.

Many of Barca's former Dutch masters are expected to be at the match - although the most famous of them all will not be in evidence.

The outspoken Cruyff has a fractious relationship with the boards of both Ajax and Barca, and told Dutch TV station RTL: "I will support Ajax. I have had some differences with Barca's president, and I will not set foot in the Camp Nou as long as he is there."

Boardroom upset is precisely what new Barca coach Gerardo Martino is hoping to avoid in his first season and the helm and will embark on his maiden Champions League campaign with a clear objective.

Barca have a rich history in this competition in recent years, winning in 2006, 2009 and 2011, and Martino - who has led his new charges to four wins from four at the start of the new La Liga campaign - knows expectations are sky high.

"There's always a prioritisation of the tournaments you're involved in. I feel that Barcelona have to win this competition," the Argentinian told a press conference today.

"We're in three competitions and we have to reach the final stages of all three.

"When I took on the Barcelona job, I knew that if we didn't win a title this season it would be a failure.

"If I am here it's because I believe we can repeat the glorious moments of the club in recent seasons.

"It's clear that for every coach to have the chance to be in the Champions League is very relevant in his career.

"I am very excited about it, although obviously I feel nervous about us living up to our standards in such a prestigious competition."

Barca come into the match looking to restore some defensive steel after shipping two goals when in dominant positions in each of their last two league matches, even though both times they held on for 3-2 victories.

"We have spoken about what has happened in the last two league games, especially in the second halves," Martino added.

"Players have to make the right decision at the right time, be more direct when they can and be less direct when they can't.

"We carry on growing and improving because the players are very capable of doing so.

"We have to correct things."

Barcelona will be without defender Jordi Alba after he suffered a hamstring injury in Saturday's win over Sevilla, while the match will also come too soon for club captain Carles Puyol, who is recovering from knee surgery.

Ajax boss Frank de Boer - another of Barca's Dutch imports in his playing days - will be relishing the chance of taking his reigning three-time Eredivisie champions to the Nou Camp, although he concedes his charges are not in the best of form.

Six games into the new league season, Ajax have won three, drawn two and lost one, and were far from convincing as they saw off PEC Zwolle 2-1 at the weekend, prompting De Boer to admit: "If Messi has seen these images of us, I doubt he'll be too concerned."

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