Ajax will be running on a double schedule for almost all of February. With matches in the Eredivisie, KNVB Cup and UEFA Europa League, Ajax will be playing once every three or four days, on average. And a number of players had a midweek interland round last week on top of that. Christian Poulsen was one of the players who remained in Amsterdam.
While most people in the Netherlands were watching the Netherlands – Italy match, something else was on in the Poulsen household. On Wednesday evening, the 92 time Danish international was watching the Macedonia – Denmark (3-0) practice interland via Danish TV. He didn’t mind the result too much, because the most important thing was that his team mates, Christian Eriksen, Viktor Fischer and Lasse Schöne, all remained fit. Just like all of the other internationals who were scattered around Europe. “And that’s good news, because we have a few important matches coming up. Moreover, we have Thulani Serero (Africa Cup) and Kolbeinn Sigthórsson back again, and we have a talent from FC Barcelona with us for the next few months. It’s just going to make us stronger.”
Last week, Poulsen took the time to observe Isaac Cuenca during his first training. He typifies the forward as a ‘really interesting player’. Cuenca’s arrival also gives him the opportunity to brush up on his Spanish. Between 2006 and 2008, Poulsen played two seasons with FC Sevilla in Spain. The fluent Spanish he spoke then has somewhat faded, but the experienced Dane, given his background, can give some support to the young Cuenca. It’s a role that suits him and one that he’s taken on with gusto at Ajax. As the eldest of the group, he’s taken the (Danish) youngsters under his wing – which is exactly the role that Frank de Boer had in mind for him last summer.
Poulsen looks forward to playing the second home game in the renovated Amsterdam ArenA with Ajax. During Ajax – Feyenoord, he, at times, felt like he was playing in an English stadium. “It was a good decision on the part of Ajax and the ArenA to make these changes. I think it’s amazing that the stands go all the way to the field almost everywhere, and that the dug-outs are now integrated in the stands. The ArenA now is a bit similar to Anfield Road.” And, as a former Liverpool player, Poulsen would know.
The match against Roda JC is Ajax’s second competition match in a series of four in which Boer has his sights set on twelve points for his team. The 0-3 win against Venlo has given the team confidence, according to Poulsen. “Last Sunday, we were constantly one hundred per cent focused. For the entire match. The pay-off was a relatively easy win. We need to keep that same rhythm going on Sunday.”
Two and a half months ago, Ajax escaped a loss in the away match against Roda JC. It wasn’t until the last minutes that Ajax caught up and turned a deficit into a narrow win (1-2). Thanks to two late goals from Poulsen’s fellow Danes, Christian Eriksen and Lasse Schöne, Ajax was able to secure three points. The 32 year old Dane sees another winning scenario for Sunday’s game, although he feels that things should go more easily against the current number 15 in the Eredivisie rankings. Especially in a full ArenA. “If we stay focused Roda shouldn’t be a problem for us.”