Peter Bosz is counting on a tough evening against Standard Luik, who, on Thursday, will be the second opponent from the Europa League’s group phase. “They had a rough start to the season, but after switching coaches, things are going well. Standard Luik has found a game that suits them well.”
Bosz does not expect the Belgians to play an ultra-defensive game. “In Europe, many teams play with five defenders. Standard does it differently, and keeps four men at the back. Defensively, they play 4-4-2, and offensively, they play with a kind of 4-2-4. They have two wing forwards, but they also have a player who always comes close to the centre forward,”
The coach is hoping that, following the last few matches, Ajax will once again be dominant. “I’ve said before that I like to see Ajax in control when in possession. When we have the ball, the opponent can’t score. Keeping the ball and passing it around quickly is defending. The Ajax Reserves were amazing to watch on Monday. The opponent was so exhausted in the end that they couldn’t do much more than just clear the ball.”
True to tradition, a player joined the press conference leading up to a European match. This time, it was Davy Klaassen. The captain said that he’s looking forward to the game. “European matches are always special. We’re really looking forward to it.” The midfielder was asked his opinion of Hakim Ziyech’s suspension. “It’s scandalous, I’m going to go and ask right away if he can please play”, answered Klaassen with a grin, earning some laughs from the crowd.
Klaassen was also asked to name his ideal midfield, but he refused to name names. “We have so many good midfielders, even guys who are on the bench, or who aren’t even in the match selection. They could easily play with any Eredivisie club immediately.”
There is a luxury problem in other areas as well, for example on offense. By bringing in Mateo Cassierra and Bertrand Traoré, and in light of Kasper Dolberg’s breakthrough, the offensive line has received a fresh boost and injection of high quality. Bosz expressed his desire to be careful with Dolberg. “Kasper has convinced me. This happened from the start, when he began to train. But I’ve said it before: he’s coming from the under 19s, where he didn’t play much last season due to injuries. Each training is like a match for him. He’s playing against grown men and it all goes much faster. We’re being careful with him. We’re not going to play Kasper into the ground or wait until something goes wrong.”
Both Klaassen and Bosz will meet up with a familiar face on Thursday evening. For Klaassen, it’s his former team mate Eyong Enoh, who was under contract with Ajax between 2008 and 2014. “It will be very nice to see him again. I’ve bumped into him at the Toekomst as well, since his son plays at Ajax.”
Bosz will meet Orlando Carlos, a player he worked with at Maccabi tel Aviv. Both moved onto a new club last summer. “A very big and strong centre forward”, says Bosz of his former pupil. “He’s also a good person. I worked with him for six months. I understood that he had gone to Standard Luik right before the transfer deadline. Fortunately, he doesn’t always play”, concluded the Ajax coach with a wink.