Erik ten Hag sees similarities between the way both Ajax and Chelsea play. The Amsterdam team’s coach said as much during the pre-game conference of Wednesday evening’s Champions League game against the London-based team.
“Chelsea wants to be in their opponent’s half as much as possible, and put the pressure on”, said Ten Hag. “That’s similar to what Ajax does.” Defender Daley Blind, who was at his coach’s side for the press conference, also praised the Blues’ playing style. “They build up and play compelling football with young players. It’s great to watch.”
During his time at Manchester United, Blind regularly faced Chelsea and had good memories of these meetings. “These were always big matches, with an amazing atmosphere in the stadium. They’re a different team now with many youngsters who are doing well.”
One of these players is Tammy Abraham, the centre forward who Blind will frequently meet. Is the latter afraid of being out-run? “That question has come of often”, says Blind. “Every team has a quick player. I’m not worrying about it. We attack together and defend together. And if you position yourself well, you can prevent a lot from happening.”
Ten Hag: “We’re assertive, brave and confident. But I repeat that Ajax is not the favourite against a Premier League club.” Of course Ajax is going for the win, said the coach. “That’s always our starting point. But if the most we can get out of it is a draw, then that’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll need to be good with the ball and patient.”