Jol lauds ‘craftsman’ Mourinho

Jol and Mourinho were adversaries in London when they managed

Tottenham and Chelsea respectively and the Dutchman admits he is

relishing the chance to pit himself against the Portuguese in the

Group G encounter at the ArenA. “Mourinho is a great coach and a

true craftsman,” he said. “I have come up against him five or six

times. He gets the most out of his team and has proved he is the

best in his field.” Madrid have already qualified for the knockout

phase and a point for the visitors would secure them top spot in

the pool. The stakes are higher for Ajax as they currently lie in

third place, just a point behind AC Milan with two games remaining.

Jol’s side have been inconsistent in domestic competition recently

but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is adamant the players should

not get bogged down by their form against the Primera Division

high-flyers. “We must enjoy playing this kind of game,” he said

before admitting Ajax were poor in the reverse fixture at the

Bernabeu which Madrid won 2-0. “In Madrid we did not play. It is

clear we should have done better.” Ajax will have striker Luis

Suarez available despite the club imposing a two-match ban on the

Uruguay international after deeming him guilty of biting PSV

Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in Saturday’s goalless draw. The ban will

only apply domestically, however, meaning he will miss the

Eredivisie fixtures against VVV-Venlo and NEC Nijmegen. Madrid have

left out several players carrying slight knocks to ensure they are

ready for next Monday’s top-of-the-table clash with Barcelona at

the Nou Camp. Gonzalo Higuain, Sami Khedira and Ricardo Carvalho

will all remain in the Spanish capital with Mourinho calling up

Sergio Canales and David Mateos as well as youth-team regular

Alvaro Morata. Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas is hoping 2011 will

be the year when Madrid finally get past the quarter-finals, the

club having fallen at that stage in each of the last six seasons.

He told UEFA’s website: “It has stuck in our heads like a little

trauma, but this has happened to the players – me more than anyone

– who have been here a few years. “I’ve experienced and suffered

this situation but the new, young players have their own

experiences with previous clubs, so it’s not necessarily something

the squad as a whole think about. “It’s more the club which has

suffered this setback in the last six years.”