De Boer wants tide to turn in Utrecht

De Boer wants tide to turn in Utrecht

Ajax was disqualified from the Europa League on Thursday evening, but the following day, there was no question of licking the wounds.  De Boer had seen it coming, more or less, due to the team’s bad situation going into the match.  “The blow is less severe in this case.  But it is still disappointing that we didn’t win.  When so many supporters come out, you want to give them a good match.  We didn’t do that.  And Celtic could just as easily have scored a 1-2 goal, and then we’d never have forgiven ourselves.”

Not pure enough

Had the Scottish team have beaten Fenerbahçe and had Ajax beaten Molde, then Ajax would have qualified for the following round.  But this didn’t happen, as both games ended in a 1-1 draw.  De Boer wasn’t only disappointed with the result, but also with Ajax’s performance.

“We were too sloppy.  The opponent was playing with ten men in their own half, and it’s hard to get through that.  We saw that against Jablonec earlier in the season.  Then, it all comes down to purity.”

Advantage

Johan Cruijff once spoke these famous words: “Every downside has an upside.” Being eliminated from European football now allows Ajax to zero in on the national competition.  “Now, we can prepare ourselves optimally for each match, train well and work more on the details.  When you play on Thursday, then again on Sunday, there’s no time for that.”

Ajax goes into the FC Utrecht match with no staffing issues.  All of the players came out of the Molde game healthy.  “I think everyone has remained fit”, says De Boer.  “I haven’t heard anything that worries me.”

Donny van de Beek went into a header duel with little regard for his personal safety.  He sent the 1-0 goal in, but sustained a bloody head wound from it.  “Donny has become a tough guy.  It’s so great that he’s scored his first goal for Ajax 1.”

Bazoer

But De Boer also had some bad news for Ajax’s youth sensation.  Van de Beek won’t be in Sunday’s squad.  “Bazoer will take over his spot.” De Boer wouldn’t say if El Ghazi would also be starting.  “We’ll see.  Anwar can train well now, but we need to see if there is any reaction.  Moreover, I’m looking at the opponent’s weaknesses and figuring out where we can hurt them.”

De Boer is expecting a hot afternoon in the Galgenwaard.  “These are the matches that make you.  For them, this is the match of the year, which is true of most of the teams that Ajax visits.  You see it when you arrive at the stadium.  But we’ve struggled with the way they battle us during the game.”

 The fact that Ajax now only has one iron in the fire, and thus has more pressure in the competition, isn’t a problem for De Boer.  “Winning the championship has always been the most important focus of this season.  Next season, we want to play Champions League.”