Ajax will have the opportunity to reinforce its lead in a midweek match against Heracles. On Tuesday, a match against the Almelo team awaits. After Monday’s training, Frank de Boer looked ahead to Ajax – Heracles.
Frank de Boer has respect for Heracles’ performance. The Almelo team are among the Eredivisie’s most stable ones. Heracles is even a sub-top team this season. “I remember that Ajax and Heracles were competing for first place in the rankings earlier this season in Almelo”, says De Boer, referring to a previous match in the beautifully renovated Polman Stadium. On Saturday, October 17 2015, the Amsterdam team posted a good 0-2 win. “That match took place quite some time ago. It’s fantastic that Heracles has been doing well for so long and is now in fourth place. The fact that Heracles has remained in the sub-top commands respect. They’re a team who is playing well. Oussama Tannane’s departure has definitely had an impact, but Heracles has good alternatives.”
Three days after the home win against Vitesse (1-0), the leader has the chance to take another good step in the race for the title. De Boer will not have Kenny Tete at his disposal for this game. The defender sustained an ankle injury on Saturday. It is still unclear how long Tete will need for his recovery. Mike van der Hoorn was Tete’s replacement in the Ajax defense. With Van der Hoorn in the centre and Joël Veltman and the new right back, the Ajax defense was unbeatable. De Boer: “Mike was great on Saturday. But Ricardo van Rhijn is in the selection, too. On Tuesday, I’ll decide who’s going to play.”
On Saturday, the Ajax coach had a glimmer of hope that Davy Klaassen would be able to play in this midweek match. However, the midfielder is still recovering and will be forced to be a spectator for the Heracles match. “Davy’s doing really well”, said De Boer optimistically about his captain’s recovery. “I’m expecting him to be able to play in Sunday’s match against Roda JC.”
But let’s go back to Ajax’s defense. Ajax kept a clean sheet for the eleventh time in the Eredivisie this season against Vitesse. Last season, the Amsterdam team managed to do this twelve times. Keeper Jasper Cillessen and his four defenders have been all but impenetrable this season. Ajax also has the fewest goals against, by far. “This is a very good development. It’s a compliment for the entire team”, continues De Boer. “It starts in the front, and from there you can relieve midfield and defense. A lot of the credit goes to the forwards and midfielders. They are also ensuring that fewer mistakes are made.” The 1-0 win against Vitesse was, according to De Boer, illustrative of Ajax’s stability. “The midfielders especially ran a lot against Vitesse. Everyone showed their willingness to work hard for the team.”