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

MADRID - 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 told delegates at a general assembly on Sunday 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."

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.

CUP STRUGGLE

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.


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