Ajax face battle to bounce back
Real Madrid inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Ajax on Wednesday night but by manager Martin Jol's admission it could have been a far heavier defeat based on the number of chances carved out by the Spanish giants. Jol recognised Cristiano Ronaldo might have had a hat-trick, and the performance from Ajax did not bode well for their chances of finishing in the top two of Group G, which also contains AC Milan and Auxerre. "It was men against boys," said Jol. "Fortunately, Maarten Stekelenburg remained solid and therefore it was 2-0. If Cristiano Ronaldo had finished better, he would have scored three." Ajax have nevertheless started well in the Dutch league this season, winning four of their opening five matches and drawing the other. On Sunday, in a lunchtime kick-off, the ever-spicy clash with Feyenoord takes place at De Kuip. Feyenoord have not finished in the top three since 2006, and although the corresponding fixture in Rotterdam ended 1-1 last season, they were beaten 5-1 in Amsterdam in the league and then home and away by Ajax in the KNVB Beker final. Feyenoord will be weakened by the suspension of defender Bruno Martins Indi, who pays the price for his red card in the 2-0 defeat to NAC Breda last Sunday. Looking forward to the fixture is Ajax striker Luis Suarez, who missed the Madrid match due to suspension but seems certain to start at the weekend. The Uruguayan goal machine is braced for a hostile atmosphere in one of the Dutch league's biggest fixtures but believes he and his team-mates can be empowered by any abuse coming from the Feyenoord fans. "It does not matter to me how the stadium rages. In all stadiums, they are against me," Suarez told www.ajax.nl. "The more they whistle, the stronger we become." PSV Eindhoven are alongside Ajax at the summit, with 13 points gleaned from five rounds of matches, and on Sunday they travel to take on a Roda JC side who have also started well, winning three games so far. Champions FC Twente remain unbeaten, with three wins and two draws, and travel to Heracles on Sunday, no doubt lifted by their 2-2 draw with Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday. Coach Michel Preud'homme saw Twente relinquish a 2-1 lead but was still proud of his players. Preud'homme said: "Three points would have been a better result for us but we are still growing as a team, and when you start like this against the champions of Europe, that can only be a positive thing." Groningen have also made a flying start to the campaign, and stand alongside Twente on 11 points ahead of their Saturday tussle with Excelsior. Also on Saturday, lowly Vitesse take on NAC Breda and bottom-of-the-table Willem II face ADO Den Haag. Sunday sees NEC Nijmegen have home advantage against AZ Alkmaar, while Utrecht go up against VVV.