Ajax in better shape than when they last met Liverpool, says coach

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Champions League - Group H - Ajax Amsterdam v Valencia

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag insisted on Monday his side were much better than the team that lost to Liverpool in the Champions League in October and would prove more competitive when they meet again at Anfield on Tuesday.

A draw would be enough for Liverpool to advance to the next phase of the Champions League while Ajax are still in contention for a top two place in Group D, sitting two points behind their hosts in the standings and level with Atalanta.

"We are better attuned to each other, the form for a number of players has got a lot better and the team as a whole is performing much better as a result," Ten Hag told a news conference.

An own goal handed Liverpool a 1-0 win at the Amsterdam Arena in the opening group match for both on Oct. 21 and Ten Hag said they had learnt some lessons from that night.

"If we had been a little more courageous then, more would have been possible. We created opportunities but did not finish them.

"And we could have created more opportunities if we had been braver," he added.

Ajax included Daley Blind in the squad after he missed the weekend's 5-0 away win at bottom placed Emmen. "We have brought a fit squad with us, everyone is on board," the Ajax coach said.

"Liverpool are the favourites they are (joint) top of the Premier League and are champions. But we are self confident and we are going to go for it," he added.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)