At Peter Bosz’s pre FC Groningen – Ajax press conference, many topics were touched upon, while the upcoming opponent was discussed very little. Finally, the coach referred to the Eredivisie’s number eleven team. “They’ve been very successful in transitions, and I think that they now have lots of good football left in the team.”
Bosz kicked off the press conference with a medical update, specifically about two left-footed defenders. Nick Viergever will most likely miss the match in Groningen, while Sinkgraven is on his way back.
“I’m assuming that I won’t be able to use Nick this weekend”, said Bosz. “He’d first have to do the entire training with the group on Saturday. Moreover, I’m more cautious with muscle injuries than with a bruise or someone who’s twisted his ankle.” Sinkgraven’s prognosis is better. “We trained for ninety minutes today and Daley joined in for the entire training for the first time. He looked good, although we need to see how he reacts.”
Bosz was also asked about David Neres’ shot at a starting spot, but, once again, he emphasized his desire to tread carefully with the Brazilian player. “I did the same think with Hakim Ziyech in the beginning, by playing him as a right winger, among other things. And there, you’re talking about someone who speaks Dutch, understands me fully, and had played in the Dutch competition before. Imagine how difficult it is for a nineteen year-old from Brazil.”
Davinson Sánchez is another player who was brought in slowly. “I first let him play with the Ajax Reserves. He wasn’t happy about that at all. And this is a guy who had just won the Copa Libertadores. If I’m not mistaken, David has played eight matches in São Paulo’s first team. That’s a pretty big difference.”
Incidentally, Sánchez will be sitting out a suspension for the away game at FC Copenhagen. There is a good chance that Matthijs de Ligt will replace him. The young defender made a good impression against Heracles Almelo. “He’s a very good player. He’s already very mature and reliable in the way he plays,” was Bosz’s praise.
In addition to Sánchez, Joël Veltman has also been suspended. Benching the duo on Sunday in order to give their replacements the opportunity to build up game rhythm, as one journalist suggested, is not an option for Bosz. “I decide what I’m doing per match. That’s the best way to keep such an intense group of players focused. As a coach, I try to look further ahead. That’s why Matthijs de Ligt isn’t playing with the Ajax Reserves tonight. But otherwise, the only game that matters is the one that’s coming up.”
Amin Younes’ improving form was brought up as well. The German earned a compliment from Bosz. “I think he’s played really well in the last four matches. He’s been a constant threat. He may have only scored once, but he made several good passes that other forwards didn’t anticipate properly. I think he’s in good shape right now, you can see that in training. He was struggling right before the winter break. He was upset and irritated then, and now he’s the cheerful guy he always was before.”
On Sunday awaits FC Groningen, a team that, in terms of their journey, has some parallels with Ajax. “We looked at Groningen today. So much has changed there. Eight or nine players who started the season there have now left. Slowly, Faber has managed to set up the team and they’re performing better. Just like Ajax.”