Frank de Boer and his left winger Viktor Fischer discussed the upcoming match against Fenerbahçe on Wednesday. In the Sükrü Saracoglu Stadyumu, Ajax will undoubtedly experience a hot evening of football on Thursday.
Frank de Boer has a lot of experience and his pupil, Viktor Fischer, is also building up quite a lot of football experience. The former top defender and the still young Danish international have both played in their fair share of cauldrons. But a true show awaits the players and staff in the Sükrü Saracoglu Stadyumu. The Turkish football league is one of the liveliest and most intense in the world.
“I think that you need to enjoy these moments. Matches like these don’t come around very often”, says De Boer, drawing from his experiences. In the 2003-2004 season, the former defender played for Galatasaray. The North Holland native saw first-hand how matches were in Turkey. De Boer enjoyed both the experience and the sometimes unbridled chaos of it all. “It’s a great experience. It should be a motivation for us to make sure the fanatic crowd stays silent. I think this whole experience is just fantastic.”
Line-up known, Van Rhijn will play
During the press conference in the Fenerbahçe stadium, De Boer revealed his starting line-up. The return of Jasper Cillessen to the Ajax goal is not surprising. Nor is Anwar El Ghazi as the starting centre forward, after this strong performance and goal against Heracles. First centre forward Arek Milik and his stand-in Yaya Sanogo are both still injured. The big surprise in the starting line-up is Ricardo van Rhijn. The right back takes over from Kenny Tete.
“Kenny’s doing very well, physically too. But we need to consider that this is his first Eredivisie season”, said De Boer, explaining his decision. “He’s also played in the Dutch national team. We’ve played matches in rapid succession against Vitesse and Feyenoord. I don’t want to take any chances with him. That’s why I’m going with a fresh Ricardo van Rhijn.”
In the Netherlands, Robin van Persie is the face who best represents Ajax’s upcoming opponent. How does the coach intend for his team to stop the 101-time Dutch international? “With eleven men, like a team”, laughs De Boer. Then, looking more serious: “Van Persie is a very good player. If you give him too much space, he can take advantage of that. We need to play very compactly. Hopefully, Van Persie won’t get too many moments like that. But obviously, it’s not just about Robin. Fenerbahçe is a very experienced team.”
The Turkish team has Van Persie, and Ajax has Anwar El Ghazi. “He needs to bring the same thing as always, as a centre forward. Sometimes he needs to be the point man, sometimes he will need to seek depth behind the central defenders. That’s what he needs to do. I was happy to see that he did that against Heracles.”
Fenerbahçe is gaining momentum
De Boer warned of the Turkish team’s power. Fenerbahçe seems to be slowly gaining momentum. “Fenerbahçce has a very new team, with ten new players I believe. They’re building a new team together. They’re all fantastic players; they’re all internationals. Internationals who have all shown their skills. Fenerbahçe just needs to become more of a team. Molde took advantage of that.”
Fischer is also looking forward to Fenerbahce and the cauldron that Ajax will be playing in starting on Thursday at 21:05 in the beautiful Sükrü Saracoglu Stadyumu. The Dane’s comments supported his trainer’s: “Fenerbahçe has a good team, with good players. It will be a tough game. But we need to be ready.”