Ajax closed its training week in Turkey on Saturday night with a 0-0 tie against Galatasaray. The opening game at the Turk Telekom Arena ended with the same score it started with. Ajax returns to the Netherlands on Sunday. On Wednesday, the Ajax – Feyenoord Klassieker awaits Frank de Boer’s team.
The friendly match against Galatasaray was held in the event of the opening of the new stadium. The Turk Telekom Arena – also known as Aslantepe Stadium – is located in the Ali Sami Yen Sports Complex and boasts similar facilities as the Amsterdam ArenA.
Dozens of dancers opened the impressive ceremony, which was reminiscent of the opening ceremony of the World Cup final in South Africa last summer. Fireworks both in and around the stadium lit up the sky. This historic event was also witnessed by the president of Turkey. Tens of thousands spectators watched the first match in the immense stadium.
Ajax had to do without a few players for this practice match against Galatasaray. Mounir El Hamdaoui is recovering from a knee injury, and Bruno Silva is having trouble with his shoulder. Dario Cvitanich couldn’t make the match, either, recovering from an ankle injury. Oleguer is recovering from a hamstring injury. De Boer, with an eye to the upcoming competition match next Wednesday against Feyenoord, started without Suarez. The Uruguayan player is still suspended for three more matches. De Boer chose for a front line consisting of Miralem Sulejmani, Siem de Jong and Lorenzo Ebecilio.
At the press conference earlier, de Boer stated that he wanted to see his team make transitions.
Ajax did this well during the first twenty minutes of the game. Ajax seized the ball from the Turks and kept them stuck in place. However, the number 9 team in the Süper Lig weren’t to be pushed around, and soon stepped up during the first half. After Gregory van der Wiel lost the ball, Ayhan Akman got a great chance to score. The Galatasaray player stood face to face with Maarten Stekelenburg, but fortunately for Ajax, his hasty shot sailed over the goal. After a little less than half an hour, Miralem Sulejmani had the best chance for Ajax. The Serbian forward took a free kick just outside the box, but his shot went wide.
Galatasaray continued to pursue its first goal in the second half. Kazim, recently arrived at the expense of arch rival Fenerbahce, produced a soft shot which landed in Stekelenburg’s hands. Shortly after, he followed up with a hard shot from the right. Ajax wasn’t able to but put any real pressure on Galatasaray on Saturday night, but the reverse was also true. The 17 time Turkish champion and Ajax were equally matched.
Twenty minutes before the end, as Eyong Enoh was substituted by Luis Suarez, the game became somewhat more dangerous. Shortly before time, the captain passed keeper Ufuk Ceylan with a shot which went over. A clear one on once with the keeper soon after also didn’t produce a goal from Suarez. Ajax got a scare after Anil Dilaver came face to face with Stekelenburg, but Ajax’s new captain avoided a goal against.
Frank de Boer was generally satisfied with the game. “I’m satisfied, but we could have done better. We could have finished better, and controlled the play better. This is a game we can learn from.”
Ajax therefore ended its training week in Turkey with a 0-0 tie. On Sunday, the team travels back to Amsterdam. Once back in the Netherlands, de Boer’s team will focus on the make-up game against Feyenoord. This match will kick off the second season half on Wednesday, and Ajax will know where it really stands.