Frank de Boer saw his Ajacieds finally win after two previous draws. A win against arch rival Feyenoord results in bonus points, literally speaking. In any case, the 2-1 win filled the Ajacieds with confidence. The Ajax coach saw many things on Sunday that were to his liking.
“Before the game, we were not sure how Feyenoord would play”, said De Boer in the ArenA’s press room, giving his audience a glimpse into tactics. Lasse Schöne was thus a surprise starter as right winger. Defensively, Mike van der Hoorn took the position of central defender. “In the end, Feyenoord played 4-5-1, which actually could be interpreted as 4-3-3 as well. The spaces were very small, in any case. In that situation, you need to be more opportunistic and get the ball behind their defenders more. We did that a few times. However, Feyenoord was dangerous with the long ball, moving in right away, and in duels. Kuyt is especially clever with this. This also resulted in a goal for them early on.”
Amin Younes scored for Ajax, bringing them even with Feyenoord after Jens Toornstra’s opening goal. The German neutralised two Rotterdam players and shot perfectly into the far corner of the goal. “It’s a definite quality that Younes has, he can score with very little room”, De Boer complimented his left wing forward. The Ajax coach saw his team dominate more and more as the Classic wore on. “In the second half, we won more duels and kept the pressure on Feyenoord. It’s great that we scored the 2-1 goal in the end. We probably should have brought it up to 3-1 or 4-1.”
De Boer welcomed these three precious points in the fight for the title. “We worked hard and showed passion. That’s where it starts. Or, as my former coach Leo Beenhakker once said: you always need to have passion and fight in your bag. I saw lots of fight from both sides, actually, which made for great football. This match was a treat to watch.”
“This is a very important game for the supporters, maybe the most important. It’s great to win it. This is how you gain confidence. We spoke with the supporters this week; from them, we understood that they want to see passion and battle-lust. Fans need to do a lot to be able to get a ticket. This is a very important part of football. You need to realise that people come to the stadium to see you. If you only give 99 per cent, it’s not enough.”
Riechedly Bazoer owed his title of Man of the Match to both his passionate and flawless playing, as well as his critical goal. De Boer saw several more Ajacieds who played with all their heart. “Joël Veltman, for example. I think he still has piece of Elia in his mouth, he just ate him up on the field”, laughed De Boer at his own illustration. Right back Veltman out played the Feyenoord substitute expertly in the Classic. Captain Davy Klaassen deserves credit as well. Just like Veltman, the captain was a contender for Man of the Match. “Davy showed how we want to play. Doing everything to make yourself and your team mates better.”