Champions League: Ajax draws Borussia Dortmund, Sporting CP; “Beautiful” says Blind
The group stage draw for the upcoming Champions League football competition was held in Istanbul on Thursday. Amsterdam club Ajax will play German side Borussia Dortmund, as well as Sporting Portugal from Lisbon and Besiktas JK, based in Besiktas, Istanbul in Turkey. It’s a “beautiful group,” said Ajax defensive midfielder Daley Blind.
"It is a group in which we have opportunities. Our goal is to spend the winter in the Champions League. I think there are possibilities," he stated. "Dortmund is an absolute top club. In the PSV match against Benfica in the play-offs, we were able to see what Portuguese teams are capable of, but I don't know much about Sporting. At Besiktas in Turkey it will undoubtedly become a witch's cauldron."
"It could all have been harder, but these opponents are not in the Champions League for nothing," said Blind. "They all have quality. We only have a chance if we are at our very best. It is not a party pool."
Ajax avoided drawing some of the top clubs in the competition in the first phase of the tournament, including Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City. Other top teams playing include Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, AC Milan and Liverpool.
Blind didn't have anything he hoped for beforehand. "But somehow I would have liked it if we had drawn against an absolute top club, for example Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain. Those are actually the matches for which you became a footballer. And no matter how difficult it is to play those kinds of teams, as Ajax you always have a chance."
The competition starts in mid-September. The schedule will be announced at a later date. Ajax is the only remaining Dutch team participating in the Champions League.
Despite a celebrated summer period, PSV was eliminated by Benfica in a play-off round. Benfica won their home leg 2-1, and played PSV to a 0-0 draw in Eindhoven on Tuesday.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.