De Boer gambling on twelve points

De Boer gambling on twelve points

Frank de Boer estimates that twelve points will be sufficient to survive the UEFA Europa League’s group phase. The coach explained this at Wednesday’s press conference, on the eve of the home game against Celtic. “Normally, you’d need to win nine points at home, and we have to assume that we will do that”, according to De Boer. “And three points from an away game would be welcome, too. Twelve points should be sufficient to make it to the next round.”

At the press conference, Scottish reporters asked De Boer about the similarities between Ajax and Celtic. The coach found several of them. “The Scottish competition, just like the Eredivisie, can’t compete with the big European competitions. Both clubs also have a great history, but that doesn’t count much anymore. Celtic is always the favourite in its own competition, especially now that the Glasgow Rangers are playing lower. We’re also the favourites in our league, and moreover we have the obligation to play good football.”

In his playing career, De Boer was active for the Glasgow Rangers, Celtic’s rival. The coach is pleased that the Scottish team was paired with Ajax in the draw. “I’m looking forward to playing Celtic in the ArenA, and also definitely looking forward to the away game. There’s a great atmosphere there. It will be a great experience, both for me personally and for my players. Celtic can give everyone a hard time. I’m confident that we can win there, but it will be tough.”

Tactical knowledge

Ajax has done well against teams from Great Britain in the past few years. De Boer has an explanation for this. “These clubs want to play football, not hang around in their own corner. Clubs like Manchester City and Manchester United are teams that, because of their standing, are obligated to play compelling football. Celtic is also accustomed to playing in their opponent’s half. That way, the opponent gains more room. Thanks to the tactical knowledge that we, the Dutch, have, we know how to take advantage of that.”

De Boer further emphasizes: “But it’s important to play from the heart. If you don’t do that, you can talk about tactics all you want, but you won’t win any games.”

On Tuesday evening, PSV pulled off a huge upset by defeating Manchester United. De Boer called this feat ‘fantastic for Dutch football’. “That little push was needed. Hopefully we will follow suit”, continued the North Holland native. “As we’ve just discussed, you’ll always get opportunities against teams like Manchester United. PSV made the most of it.”

A good result is the most important thing for De Boer. Next, but still important, is the execution. “We want to play compelling football, but the most important thing is that we book a good result, just like PSV. If we want to go through, we need to win this match. The points go before attractiveness. But our intention is to play beautiful, thoughtful and attacking football.”

De Boer emphasized again the importance of European football. “It’s very important: you get confronted with different systems and experience different stadium atmospheres. Plus, you need European football in order to learn how to play three matches in eight days.” De Boer thinks that the Europa League is a great tournament, but sees a clear difference with Champions League. “Not in terms of load, but in terms of feeling. We want to play at the highest level. Unfortunately that’s not the case this year. But if you look at the pools, it’s obvious that it won’t be a cakewalk to get to the semi-finals or the finals. There are some very strong opponents here.”

Riedewald

Jairo Riedewalk was at De Boer’s side. The left-footed defender was substituted out of Saturday’s game against FC Twente in the second half due to a groin injury. “It only started bothering me in the second half. The coach didn’t want to take any risks. I’ve been to the physiotherapist, on my day off as well, and I feel good.”

Riedewald was clear about Ajax’s ambitions. “We have a good team and want to go through. Everyone has the same goal and that’s what we’re going for.”