The disappointment is still fresh only hours after their last minute loss to Fenerbahçe. The Amsterdam team was stunned by a fatal 1-0 goal by Fernandao in the 89th minute. “After that, you don’t get to bed until 2a.m. We’ll feel this hangover for a few days”, said De Boer with a realistic dose of apprehension.
But there isn’t much time to stew. The next match is already in sight. In Vitesse, they’ll once again meet a worthy opponent. “Vitesse is a very good team. If you’re not mentally prepared, it will be very tough”, continued De Boer. “We’ll need to transition quickly.”
De Boer has seen the Arnhem team’s strength this season. “Vitesse has several talented and experienced players. A few new players from Chelsea have joined. Vitesse has more attributes than last season. They have a few great players. You can’t give Vitesse any space or time. That will be crucial for us.”
The preparation for the duel against Vitesse will be minimal. The Gelderland club, which will be without suspended head coach Peter Bosz this Sunday, has had the whole week to focus on this Eredivisie top match. De Boer isn’t complaining. In fighting spirit: “I’m not afraid of Vitesse; we are a better them than last season, too. We have one day to think about Vitesse. That’s a big difference with their preparation. But making quick transitions is a part of football. You need to transition, and go.”
Arek Milik won’t be available to play on Sunday. The Polish player’s injury is a persistent one. “It doesn’t look good”, said the Ajax coach prior to the return trip. “The feeling is that we can’t count on Arek just yet. A miraculous recovery notwithstanding, of course.”
The lack of a pure striker is being felt more and more. Yaya Sanogo has been out of the rotation for a long time as well. “Of course we miss having those players who can turn a match around. We have guys who can play centre forward, but they’re different types of players. In that sense, you really want to have options to play with different systems. If things aren’t going well, you switch to option 2. Sanogo will train fully this week. But he can’t play yet.”