Ajax boss Erik ten Hag hopes his side get the opportunity to face Cristiano Ronaldo in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Juventus.
The Portuguese forward has been struggling with a thigh injury sustained on international duty in recent weeks but has been included in the Italian club’s squad for the first leg in Amsterdam.
Ten Hag is keen for Ajax – who knocked Ronaldo’s former club Real Madrid out in the last round – to face the challenge of going up against the 34-year-old, even if his presence makes the prospect of progressing tougher.
“I think it’s nice if Ronaldo plays,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“We want to play against the best possible opponent. That’s a challenge and we like to face challenges. It’s fantastic if you can compete against a player like Ronaldo.”
Ajax, four-time European champions, have not reached this stage of the Champions League since 2003 and Ten Hag opened up about the difficulties faced by Eredivisie sides in the competition.
“Of course it’s very important for Ajax being back at the top again. I repeat, financially things have changed a lot nowadays,” he explained.
“It has become harder for a small country like Netherlands to compete in the Champions League at the quarter-final stage. Portugal is managing to do so, now Netherlands is able to do the same.
“But other than that, there are no other countries who can measure themselves with top clubs. But also for the Champions League, I think it’s a good cause. It would be bad if every year if the same teams are competing in the quarter-finals.
“I don’t think the real football fan would like to see that. I think football should also be about surprises. It’s nice that we can make it happen this year.”