Bakker has an almost entirely fit squad ahead of the match against the French. Only Roos van der Veen and Nikita Tromp have long-lasting injuries. How did the coach prepare her team for this match? "You know Paris’ qualities and their weaknesses", Bakker explained in the ArenA. "We train hard. As the staff, you constantly stress that this will be a high-intensity match. We want to improve ourselves every day. I have told the girls: let’s experience this and enjoy it together. Let’s create some nice memories."
'We want to show ourselves'
Back to the draw of the UWCL group stage. Spitse remembers being drawn against top clubs well. "At first, I thought: can it be even more tough? Later, you think: those are great matches, but you are an athlete. You always want to win. This is a tough poule, in which we want to do everything to achieve the best result. You are the underdog, but that is fine. We have to accept the challenge; we like that. You want to win and not just be a part of it. This is a stage where we can show ourselves."
Bakker also remembers the draw against Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona and Bayern München. Bakker: "The poule of death, that was my first thought. But we want to end at the highest level. This is a new experience for some players. Others have experienced after the two matches against Arsenal, for example. We will enjoy this for sure." When is Bakker satiesfied? "I will be satisfied when we show who we are against these top clubs. I am confident that it will end in great results. We want more and to get better every day."
Spitse is focused on her role in the match on Wednesday. "We have to play football ourselves too and not focus on Paris too much. I have to coach and calm the team when they get nervous." The international player will, just like her colleagues, have a particular focus on Lieke Martens. The Dutch opponent will play on the French side. "I spoke to Lieke shortly, but not about the match", Spitse said.
The fact that this match will be played in the Johan Cruijff ArenA makes it even more special. Spitse: "We have already been to the ArenA to look at the dressing rooms. Not everybody has been there. There is more attention for this match. That is only good for us and for women's football in general. This is a wonderful development for Ajax. Step by step, it is becoming more professional. That's nice to see."
The match in the ArenA has yet to be sold out. The kick-off time (21:00) has much to do with that, according to the Ajacieden. "But I hope there will be many people that will attend the match last minute", Spitse adds. "This is a starting point. Hopefully, we will achieve a great result, and even more people will attend the next matches. The people who come want to see us play football. Everything is about a great result. The better the result, the more people will come. I’m convinced of that."
Spitse: "The ArenA is the best stage to play on. That's what you do it for as a player. This is a dream coming true, especially in the UWCL. Like Suzanne said, we will enjoy this. This is the first step, and I'm sure we will experience more of this."
The first group-stage match, Ajax Vrouwen – Paris Saint-Germain, will be played in the Johan Cruijff ArenA at 21:00 on Wednesday.