Wiping the Floor With Ajax
Proper preparation prevents p*** poor puns, and unfortunately I was as probably prepared as a "prudent" banker during credit crunch season.
Aston Villa regain the European nights against a former giant, perhaps forgotten giant, in Ajax on Thursday night in what will undoubtedly be a special occasion for all those who can make it.
Champions League? Your having a laugh mate this will do us nicely for now!
A €-themed preview from le Vital et Villa *shrug.*
We kick off the preview with a quote that BBC have picked up on, in which I really just cannot ignore. Le Arse Wenger on WAGS:
"Frankly I just believe what is important is on the pitch. If that is related to the long heels or the short heels which the girls wear in the street, then I am not a great fan of that. The quality of the pass is not linked to the size of the heels of the girl."
With the game still not sold out (those who can make it who aren`t going, why the heck not?!) the official Villa website is in quote over-drive with respect to the game that sees two former European Champions go head-to-head in what is soon to become another over-commercialised lot of UEFA drivel.
Starting off with Martin "same team how long?" O`Neill" le boss wants to avoid a repeat of the last time he faced Ajax in a home match, where the Dutch masters positively clogged Monny`s Celtic side Parkhead, winning 1-0, not enough to overturn the 3-1 victory in the Netherlands.
Nether-the-less (sorry) O`Neill is wary of the threat of an Ajax team on a European tour, a European tour, a European tour:
He told avfc.co.uk:
"We played then in a qualifying game for the Champions League, We won 3-1 at their place, which was a fantastic evening, and we had a real bombardment against us at Celtic Park and lost 1-0.
"That was a shock because we didn't lose too often at home. But we did enough to get through.
"They had a host of great up-and-coming young talent at that stage and most of them they have gone on to great things."
"We now have a spate of games in quick succession. The one against Ajax is as big as it gets. Excitement is there and we are full of hope."
Meanwhile a similarly experienced UEFA veteran (without O`Neill`s Euro Cup win) in Brad Friedel, believes that the upside down world of European domestic football has meant that the UEFA cup, somewhat seen as a poor cousin to the Champions League (with UEFA attempting to rescue it as the Europa League,) has become more competitive. He told the official site:
"We finished top of our group two years ago, then had a very tough draw and went out,' said Friedel. 'But this season's UEFA Cup is far more difficult than when Blackburn played in it.
"The teams in every single one of the groups are very strong, and we're in a really exciting group. Everyone is capable of taking points off everyone else, so it's going to be very interesting.
"Getting off to a good start would be tremendous but the group won't be decided by one game.
"It's going to be a fantastic tie against Ajax, with a fantastic atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to being involved in it. It will be a completely different feel because it's a European night."
Meanwhile, Martin O`Neill`s Dutch counterpart, has said somewhat naff all for now regarding Villa, but here`s what he had to say about his sides floundering domestic campaign. Following the 5-2 defeat to Heerenveen, Marco Van Basten said:
"I have never before experienced such a hammering``, he said. "After a difficult start and a 2-0 deficit, the team did not react. That was very disappointing.
"As Ajax we should be ashamed for this performance.
"Heerenveen were simply better.``
Ajax did bounce back, however it`s injuries ahoy for the Amsterdam side.
Aston Villa Team News:
Oh I don`t know what MON does anymore. I`d expect an un-changed lineup from that that didn`t play against Portsmouth, with Shorey and Young coming back in in some way shape or form. Expect the somewhat goal-draught ridden Agbonlahor to continue. Freddie Bouma is our only absence.
Player to watch: Gabby Agbonlahor
Hurry up and score so some of us doubters expect more than a career spanning similar to that of Stefan Moore eh?
Ajax Team News:
Ajax are having a bit of a goalkeeping crisis, with veteran stopper Hans Vonk re-signed by the club to deputise for 22-year-old Kenneth Vermeer.
Player to watch: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
What else can you say about Klaas-Jan Huntelaar? His name says it all!
The musical interlude today comes from what can be considered Hollands finest artists. Best played loud.
Techno Techno Techno Techno:
There really is no limit to my talent, is there?
Meanwhile, have some facts about Holland eh?
No ref for this yet, can`t find the info!
1-0 to the Villa and European glory here we come!
I`m off to Wigan on Sunday, is there anyone heading up the M6 that has two spare seats in their car? Petrol money and beer tokens are available!