On Wednesday, in Warsaw, Peter Bosz looked ahead to the UEFA Europa League game against Legia Warsaw. The double-header in this round of thirty-two game will give the Ajax coach a good sense of where his team stands on the international stage. “I think that we should beat Legia.”
Ajax has extensively analyzed its upcoming opponent, who arrived in the UEFA League via the UEFA Champions League. The fact that the Polish team has mainly played friendly matches and only one official game since the end of the winter break makes the situation difficult to analyze.
“I’ve mostly seen preparation games. But despite that, we have a good idea of how Legia can play”, said Bosz in the Legia stadium’s press room. “They are a good opponent. They’re bringing in Champions League experience. In a very difficult pool – with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund – they ended up in third place, ahead of Sporting Lisbon. This third spot speaks to their potential.”
Two years ago, Ajax and Legia faced each other in the Europa League’s round of thirty-two. The 0-3 win that the Amsterdam team posted at the time in Warsaw doesn’t offer many similarities with the current situation. “Seven Legia players are still there”, indicates Bosz. “But so much can change throughout the years. That’s why I’ve been focusing on Legia’s recent matches. Last time, Legia – Ajax was played in an empty stadium. A match without a crowd is like a ghost match for me. The crowd can definitely be a factor this time.”
At Legia, the Ajacied will meet his former Vitesse player Valeri Qazaishvili. Bosz is looking forward to seeing the Georgian player, who once called him ‘father’. “I share a warm connection with Valeri. He’s a good person and a good player. I enjoyed working with him at Vitesse.”
Bosz did not divulge much about his starting eleven at the press conference in the Polish capital. The Ajacieds will first receive a tactical brief after their training, and the definitive squad will be announced on Thursday evening.
“We came through the pool phase quickly”, said the Ajax coach, referring to the group that included Panathinaikos, Celta de Vigo and Standard Liège. The first knock-out phase match against Legia awaits. “Once you’re through, you have the possibility to give different players a shot. But now, when you could potentially be out after two games, you approach it differently. I hope that tomorrow, as a team, we can give a good performance.”
The double-header against Legia Warsaw will also show Bosz where his team stands on the international stage. “I know where we are in terms of competition; partly because we’ve won the first five games after the winter break. We’ll see where we stand internationally after these two games. In any case, it’s not a given that a Dutch club will beat a Polish one.”