De Boer expects war in The Hague

De Boer expects war in The Hague

Ajax will return to work with a bang on Sunday.  At least that is what Frank de Boer expects.  “We all know that this is the match of the year for ADO Den Haag”, said the coach during Friday’s press conference.  “You only need to read the interviews to know that it will be war at 12:30 on Sunday.  We’re prepared for that.  It will be a good show in any case.”

In the Kyocera Stadium, Ajax will have to play without injured captain Davy Klaassen, who is suffering from an irritated meniscus.  De Boer had many compliments for the midfielder.  “He’s a motivator, and he is captain for a reason.  He’s a leader of the team and an extension of the coach.  If you tell him three things about how we want to play, he understands immediately.  That’s football intelligence.”

Gudelj leader

Klaassen’s absence means that other players will need to take on that responsibility, said De Boer.  “Other players will need to take over that leadership role.  Nemanja Gudelj, for example.”

Ajax prepared in Belek, Turkey, for the second half of the season.  On Sunday, the selection returned to the Netherlands.  De Boer was satisfied with the training camp.  “We had to cancel one of our training due to thunder and lightning.  But it didn’t really matter.  We were able to use the time to do some strength training.  The players are in good shape and I think they are very eager to get started on the second half of the season.”

Sinkgraven or Van de Beek De Boer wouldn’t elaborate on whether it would be Daley Sinkgraven or Donny van de Beek who would replace Klaassen.  They each played one half against Hamburger SV.  The Ajax coach was pleased with their contribution and the match in general.  “We looked at the footage and only the first fifteen minutes and the last ten minutes were poor from our side.  The rest was good.  I was also satisfied with Daley and Donny.  Don’t forget that this was Daley’s first match after his surgery.  And it was against a good opponent, too.”

Someone who will most likely play on Sunday is Riechedly Bazoer.  De Boer was specifically asked about the midfielder’s development.  “It’s gone very fast.  Riechedly has an incredible amount of talent” he said.  “There are also several areas for improvement.  He needs to score more goals.  The idea isn’t that he should go out looking to score, but if a pass comes, he has to be aware that he should be in position.  In the past, we worked on that with Christian Eriksen, too.  Within a season, this resulted in eight goals and fifteen assists.  Riechedly is only a fist year senior.  He has time, but he knows what he needs to work on.”

Charged afternoon

Although De Boer expects a charged afternoon in The Hague, he doesn’t know exactly how ADO will go to battle.  “Will they apply full-on pressure, or will they wait, like Utrecht?  We don’t know.  ADO has had a good phase and a lesser phase in the first half of the season.  Coincidentally, they came out at 4-4-2.  They got a red card and started playing 4-4-1.  That worked well.  Due to Mike Havenaar’s injury, they continued to play with four midfielders.  I think they beat Heerenveen 0-4.  I am sure they will want to build on that.”