Ajax kicks off against PSV on Sunday afternoon at 16:45 in the Amsterdam ArenA. Both clubs have won their first two competition matches, and are thus vying for the top position. On Friday, Frank de Boer looked ahead to the match, and revealed a few key positions in the line-up. Although putting it all together is sometimes difficult for him: “It’s hard to bench good players. The differences are very small.”
Both Ricardo van Rhijn and Joël Veltman received good news from their coach. They will play their first minutes of the season in the first team. De Boer explains: “Van Rhijn and Veltman are both playing. They’ve proven themselves with the Ajax Reserves and in training. We’ve discussed with the technical and medical staff, and have decided to let them play. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson will be playing centre forward on Sunday as well.”
The weekly press conference was preceded by a speech from Edwin van der Sar and Nike Boor, director of the Fonds Gehandicaptensport (Disabled Sports Fund). They explained the concept of the ‘als1team’ (‘as 1 team’) campaign, in which Ajax and Aegon stand behind disabled sports as one team. “We want to increase the number of young football players by 5% in the Netherlands. It’s an honour that the Fonds Gehandicaptensport is on Ajax’s away jersey”, said Boor.
On Sunday, Ajax will wear its ‘regular’ white and red jersey against PSV. De Boer has been studying the Eindhoven team in the past few weeks: “PSV has made a good impression. I’ve also seen them in the Europa League. The team has many individual attributes, with players who can decide a game out of the blue. But we’re not doing too badly ourselves, although there’s always room for improvement.”
Because almost the entire selection is fit, the coach is forced to disappoint several players each week: “It’s hard to bench some of the players. If I look at players like Thulani Serero, Lucas Andersen, Stefano Denswil and Kenneth Vermeer…they deserve to play, too. But I can only play eleven. Now I’ve chosen other players, but that could change in a heartbeat. In previous seasons, the difference between the squad players and a few reserves was sometimes 30%. Now it’s maybe 5%. The competition is a killer, and that’s a good thing.”
De Boer is clear about what his players need to do on Sunday to defeat PSV. “Communication and talking on the field will be very important. We need to be on top of it and defensively prevent PSV from getting into their game. I think that we will need to make the difference in ball possession and with our position changes.”