Ajax won its first friendly this Friday against Spanish club Osasuna 1-0. Davy Klaassen scored the only goal of the afternoon in the FC Emmen stadium. Manager Frank de Boer was pleased: ,,This team has proven that it is worthy of being Ajax’ first team.” This evening Ajax will be playing Werder Bremen, with an entirely different squad than this afternoon.
Their opponent Osasuna had only been in training for ten days. That formed a great contrast with Ajax, who are playing AZ for the Johan Cruijff Plate next week already. The number sixteen of last season’s Primera Division has been in the Netherlands since Thursday to play a large number of friendlies. Osasuna is getting playing time in wherever it can. The match against Ajax was their first test in a long row, because NAC Breda (Sunday), Twente (Tuesday), SC Heerenveen (Saturday) and NEC (Sunday) are also on the Spaniards’ playlist. Frank de Boer: ,,The Primera Division is a good league. In playing this opponent we have shown that we are on the right track. They had the chance to introduce all their new players and we didn’t do that.”
The match against Osasuna was the first one of the day, as Ajax had two opponents to face on Friday. This double confrontation proves to be an ideal part of the preparation. Almost everyone exerts himself equally and so the schedule in the days following the matches can be the same for all players. De Boer said on Friday that his squad’s framework would be best visible in the match against Werder Bremen. This was reason enough for the players of the first match to prove their manager wrong. ,,This match is also important”, De Boer said. ,,Players must show their worth in this match too.”
And that’s exactly what they did, according to the 112-time international player. Cillessen was in goal for Ajax, Ligeon, Van der Hoorn, Denswil and Boilesen made up the defence. Serero, Klaassen and Schöne were on midfield, while Sana, Hoesen and Boerrigter tried to impress the manager up front. Substitute Toby Alderweireld sprang into action in Emmen after thirty minutes and will also play for thirty minutes against Werder Bremen in Meppen. Mike van der Hoorn is not yet ready to play an entire match at this stage of his preparation for the new season and neither is Davy Klaassen.
Nevertheless Klaassen is sharp and fit, as he proved after only six minutes of play. He ran into the open space and received the ball from team captain Lasse Schöne perfectly. The blond midfielder went around goalkeeper Riesgo and tapped in the opening goal beautifully: 1-0. ,,Davy made a much better impression than earlier on during the preparation, particularly physically. And he spent more time at the ball. During the first matches you could see he was still searching what to do. The 1-0 was preceded by a fantastic pass by Schöne, but you still have to have a feel for it. When you see him turn, someone has to set off to receive that pass”, De Boer said in praise of both his acting team captain and the goal scorer.
During the first half Ajax had nothing to fear from the flat playing Osasuna. The score could have and should have been higher, but the attackers didn’t get lucky in the execution of the goals. One of Ligeon’s shots, for example, only just went high and an attempt by Boerrigter was deflected just before the goal line.
In the 53rd minute – Ajax hadn’t brought in any subs during halftime, exactly as they had predicted – Danny Hoesen was about to score 2-0. Goalkeeper Riesgo got in the way, though. Over on the other side of the pitch Cillessen didn’t have to make his first save of the match until three minutes later. He did that well, but going by the qualification De Boer gave the two friendlies, Cillessen is still not favoured in goal over Vermeer.
After exactly an hour De Boer brought on the two subs he had promised. Klaassen and Van der Hoorn were taken off and Alderweireld and Bazoer took their places on the pitch. Shortly after they came on, Boerrigter had the perfect opportunity to score the second Ajax goal. The left-winger’s shot was too soft though and it landed in the goalkeeper’s arms. Ajax had a few more opportunities - including a shot against the crossbar by Hoesen – but it made no difference to the score.
,,This team has proven they are worthy of being Ajax’ first team. I need not worry when I call on them", De Boer concluded in a very summery Emmen. ,,But nothing is set in stone yet. That won’t become clear until the first league match. I regard the Johan Cruijff Plate as the conclusion of the season’s preparation. But I do desperately want to win it. I want to see everyone keep up the pace for the full ninety minutes then. That will also decide who will be the main players.”