Frank de Boer sat down at the press table on Tuesday afternoon with his recovered central defender Toby Alderweireld to discuss Wednesday’s key Champions League duel against Borussia Dortmund. Both Ajax men look forward to the duel. Ajax needs to post a good result against Dortmund, as this would maximize its opportunities to make it through the winter break in Europe.
De Boer wouldn’t go into details about whether or not this is an all-or-nothing match, asked by the NOS reporter. “We want to try to play our own game, just like we do at every Champions League match. That’s worked out well three times and once not so well in the home game against Real Madrid. We’re hoping to do well and we’re going in for the win.”
In Dortmund, Ajax squandered a seemingly sure point when Lewandowski scored three minutes before the end. What has changed at Ajax in the two months that have since passed? De Boer: “the most important thing is that we’ve played three top teams in the meantime. We’ve shown that we’re ready for that; both in terms of speed and match power. Everything has been raised a notch. When you’re playing against world class stars, then it all goes faster. It’s critical that the selection realize that they can walk off the field with a good result at the top level. That we can give any team a hard time. Obviously we can lose, but then we need to go down fighting. In three out of the four matches, we’ve shown that we can do it. Tomorrow night, I want to see them bursting with the belief that they can do it. Then it will be an interesting confrontation.”
Toby Alderweireld also looks forward to the duel against Dortmund. Last Saturday, he was forced to watch from the stands, injured, as his team mates struggled against the defensive-minded VVV-Venlo. “Physically, I’m doing well now. I’m completely fit. After Zwolle, we were originally thinking of the match against VVV, but it was a question mark whether I could play without any risk then. At that time, we decided that I’d skip that match and focus on Dortmund. That’s an amazing match to be a part of. That first match in Germany gave us confidence. We showed our own game and created opportunities. Most importantly, we’ll take the good points from that match into Wednesday’s. Of course, Dortmund has a great team, but that goes without saying if you are in first place in this pool.”
The central defender has a special assignment for this match against the pool D leader. “I want to neutralize Lewandowski. If he’s unable to create much danger, then I’ve done my job well. But the Ajax game is more than just defending. You need to make the right decisions in terms of football, and it needs to be faster. That’s true for me too. That’s a nice challenge.”
The coach is counting on the home advantage for Wednesday. Moreover, the UEFA has calculated that De Boer, as an Ajax and FC Barcelona player, has only lost once in twelve meetings with German clubs. “I think we’re hard to beat in the ArenA, and that’s what I’m counting on for Wednesday’s game.” And to conclude: “Those statistics are nice, but it would be great if we can book the same result against Dortmund.”