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Real's dream of 10th crown within reach: Perez

Last updated on: September 26, 2011 17:20 IST

Real's dream of 10th crown within reach: Perez

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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez believes hiring Jose Mourinho as coach and spending hundreds of millions of euros on players has finally laid the foundation for winning a 10th European title.

As his team prepared to host Ajax Amsterdam in Tuesday's Champions League Group D clash, the construction magnate said on Sunday that a first continental crown since 2002 was within reach.

"We've increased the talent of the squad, rejuvenating and improving it," Perez said.

"We have the best players in the world and they are reinforced by the academy.

"We're on the right path, sailing the right course; we've laid the groundwork for it to be so.

"The pursuit of victory is part of the identity of this team and we want the dream of winning our tenth European Cup title to come true soon."


Image: Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid
Photographs: Getty Images
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Real will miss Marcelo, Pepe and Coentrao

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Real were knocked out in the semi-finals last season by bitter rivals and eventual winners Barcelona in Mourinho's first term in charge.

They began their campaign with a less-than-convincing 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb and warmed up for Tuesday's game at the Bernebeu with a 6-2 La Liga win over city neighbours Rayo Vallecano but had to come from behind after conceding after only 12 seconds.

They will be missing Brazilian left back Marcelo, who was sent off in Zagreb, and injured Portuguese pair Pepe and Fabio Coentrao for the Ajax clash.


Image: Marcelo of Real Madrid
Photographs: Getty Images
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Ajax's struggling tale

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Real scored six goals without reply when they played Ajax home and away in last season's group stage.

The Dutch club have since brought in former Barca player Frank De Boer to replace Martin Jol as coach but are still a shadow of the side that won the Champions League in 1995 and lost to Juventus on penalties in the final the following year.

Ajax failed to beat visiting Olympique Lyon in their group opener and have recorded consecutive draws against PSV Eindhoven and Twente Enschede in the Dutch league as well as struggling to a 3-1 Cup win against the amateurs of Noordwijk.

Probable teams:
Real Madrid:
1-Iker Casillas; 4-Sergio Ramos, 18-Raul Albiol, 19-Raphael Varane, 17-Alvaro Arbeloa; 14-Xabi Alonso, 6-Sami Khedira; 10-Mesut Ozil; 22-Angel Di Maria, 9-Karim Benzema, 7-Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ajax: 1-Kenneth Vermeer; 2-Gregory van der Wiel, 4-Jan Vertonghen, 3-Toby Alderweireld, 5-Vurnon Anita; 8-Christian Eriksen, 6-Eyong Enoh, 16-Theo Janssen, 10-Siem de Jong; 7-Miralem Sulejmani, 9-Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.


Image: Ajax Amsterdam head coach Frank de Boer
Photographs: Getty Images
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Bayern face red-hot Manchester City

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Bayern Munich take on ambitious Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, a clash between European aristocrats and a big-spending team desperate to prove they belong among the elite.

The game is one of the most intriguing of Matchday Two which also sees holders Barcelona travel to BATE Borisov in Belarus and 2010 champions Inter Milan going to CSKA Moscow as they seek to kick-start their season under new coach Claudio Ranieri.

Like Bayern, Barcelona and Inter, Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam are established members of the European soccer aristocracy and they meet in a fascinating game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, last season's runners-up Manchester United will look for their first win of the embryonic campaign against Basel of Switzerland while AC Milan take on Czech newcomers Viktoria Plzen.


Image: Manchester City players with manager
Photographs: Getty Images
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Its old money vs new money

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Bayern's clash with Manchester City symbolises what this competition is all about; a clash of current European powerhouses on one level, and a clash of Old Money vs New Money on another.

There are strong soccer links between the cities of Munich and Manchester, but they have been built entirely between United and Munich dating back to the 1958 Munich Air Crash when United's plane crashed on takeoff resulting in 23 deaths including those of eight United players.

But while Bayern have strong links with Old Trafford, having played United nine times in all, they have never met City before and their relationship has not started in the most friendly way.

There was some ill-feeling over the summer transfer of Jerome Boateng from City to Bayern, and Bayern's outspoken chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says City were bailed out by their owners having accrued debts of 140.0 million euros.


Image: Bayern Munich players line up for a team photo
Photographs: Getty Images
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Inter's Ranieri gears up for CSKA

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Three times European champions Inter Milan, who lost their opening match 1-0 to Trabzonspor of Turkey two weeks ago, will look to bounce back in Moscow on Tuesday.

Inter have now employed the experienced Ranieri and will be bouyed by their first win of the season on Saturday, a 3-1 triumph at Bologna. They have also won both their previous Champions League matches against CSKA in Moscow, 2-1 in 2007-08 and 1-0 in the quarter-finals in 2009-10.


Photographs: Getty Images
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