The first European semi-finals in twenty years are within reach for Ajax. However, Peter Bosz refuses to count his eggs before they’re hatched, even after the 2-0 win at home against Schalke 04.
“It would be an incredible achievement if we made it”, said Bosz at the press conference on the eve of the return game in Veltins Arena. “But the worst thing we could do is to already look past this match. We will first need to play very well and be extremely focused.”
In any case, Ajax will try to take the initiative immediately, just like in the home game – per their house style. “We’re going to focus on our own strengths, as we’ve been doing all season”, said Bosz. “Whether we actually are able to play out at the front or get forced back depends on the opponent as well. Schalke is playing at home and have their backs against the wall. We’re going to face that and we’ll have to have an answer ready.”
Who will be centre forward?
The most interesting question for the press was which player would be centre forward: Kasper Dolberg or Bertrand Traoré? The former was out of circulation for four weeks with a groin injury and played ninety minutes last Sunday against sc Heerenveen (5-1). During his forced absence, Dolberg was substituted quite nicely by Traoré, who got a break last Sunday.
Bosz said that he had made his decision, but didn’t want to divulge anything yet. “I know what we’re going to do, but I can’t say anything yet. We had the day off yesterday and we’re going to train first. After that, I want to tell the players first.”
In complete contrast to what had been planned, Dolberg played the entire match against Heerenveen on Sunday. “If you’re been out for four weeks and haven’t played with the Ajax Reserves, then I think that ninety minutes is much too long. It wasn’t the plan, but we did it out of sheer necessity.” Bosz decided to spare a few players who were struggling (such as Davy Klaassen and Nick Viergever) by sidelining them in the course of the game.
Competitor Traoré was also discussed in terms of which position brings out the best in him: centre forward or right wing? “I believe that he can play both. That’s what he did at Vitesse under me. However, I think that at Ajax, he’s done better at centre forward than right wing”, said Bosz. To be continued.
18 fit players
In any case, Ajax’s coach has a fit selection at his disposal. “Every player I’ve brought can play. There are eighteen.”
Sinkgraven available on Sunday?
Daley Sinkgraven was forced to miss the trip to Gelsenkirchen. The left back had to stop during the first game last week, after halftime. Will the left back be able to play on Sunday against PSV? “He’s not using crutches anymore, so he’s recovering”, said Bosz. But I don’t know if he’ll be able to play on Sunday. Fortunately, he’s doing better, though.”
The UEFA Europa League match between Schalke and Ajax starts on Thursday at 21:05.