Ajax kicks off its second round of Eredivisie play on Sunday at 12:30 against AZ. It’s a massive topper, considering that Ajax and AZ both won their first matches with the biggest margins against their opponents, landing in the top two spots in the rankings right off the bat. Despite the 4-1 win against Vitesse last week, De Boer wasn’t satisfied, but he’s pleased with what he’s been seeing during Ajax’s trainings this past week: “I saw a hungry team that wants to improve.”
The strong and weak points of last week’s match between the current Eredivisie leader and Vitesse were thoroughly analyzed last week. “We’ve analyzed the match completely. We mostly looked at what went wrong, and I don’t want to see those mistakes again on Sunday. It was only the third match for us in which everyone played 90 minutes. It’s also a matter of getting used to it, and I’m expecting that to be better on Sunday.”
De Boer announced that his three internationals will play. “All internationals will play. Joël Veltman will go to Fortuna Sittard, where he’ll play with the Ajax Reserves. Jasper Cillessen and Daley Blind will both be on the squad against AZ. It’s obviously a shame to have to disappoint other players, who’ve done a great job filling in during their absence. But the World Cup players have obviously earned this. There’s a reason they played with the Dutch national team.”
The switch of keepers will be at Kenneth Vermeer’s expense, Sunday’s Man of the Match against Vitesse. De Boer feels it’s a shame for Vermeer, but it’s not a difficult choice: “Jasper Cillessen played well all of last season and he had a great World Cup. So he has the advantage over Vermeer. But you need to keep proving yourself. Vermeer is a very good keeper too, and he needs to do everything to make it as tough as possible for Cillessen. And there’s always a chance that Vermeer will leave, but I hope that the other clubs all keep snoozing on that one.”
The match against AZ is too soon for Ricardo van Rhijn. He’ll play 45 to 60 minutes tomorrow with the Ajax Reserves. Robert Muric, who is now fully training again, won’t be part of the match. “Maybe he can play half an hour next week with the Ajax Reserves. He’s getting there”, says De Boer.
Last year, Ajax lost a strange match at AZ, 3-2. The team proved to be a tough opponent last year. That’s not news to De Boer: “Each opponent is difficult for Ajax; we’re the team everyone wants to beat. AZ and Ajax have a derby thing going on, and the crowd is then more fanatical, and in addition to that they simply have a good team. They’re a good, solid team.”