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Ten Hag: 'Tagliafico and Mazraoui seem ready’

Ten Hag: 'Tagliafico and Mazraoui seem ready’

Erik ten Hag and Hakim Ziyech met no fewer than 14 camera crews during their press conference on Monday afternoon, leading up to the Champions League match against SL Benfica.  The head coach spoke of the Portuguese opponent with respect, and addressed questions marks around Noussair Mazraoui and Nico Tagliafico: “If I look at them now, I think they’re ready, but we need to wait and see.”

The Portuguese media was first on hand and was curious: what does Ten Hag think of Benfica?  “Benfica is a very strong team”, said the coach.  “Their intention is to play attacking and varied football. They’re an experienced team with a lot of confidence.  They’ll most likely be on the attack…”

The coach added: “I expect that they’ll attack, but they’re also very good on the counter.  If we have a very good day, we can win.  That would be a great step, even though it still wouldn’t be decisive.”

Tagliafico & Mazraoui

Ajax started last weekend’s game at sc Heerenveen (0-4) without Tagliafico and Mazraoui.  But Ten Hag was optimistic about both of them.  “They’ll both be at the training later.  If I look at them now, they’re ready, but we need to wait and see.”

Ten Hag answered the question of whether Dusan Tadic could be an option for centre forward. “That’s certainly an option, as it would enable us to create a dominance at midfield.  We have two very good centre forwards, but in the end, it’s about being the best as a team.  Everyone needs to make a difference.”

Ziyech: 'Want to do something great’
Following that, Ziyech addressed the press.  The player was asked if Ajax was a team of friends.  “Everyone in the team gets along very weel.  We care about each other and we definitely have a now-or-never feeling.  This club hasn’t won any prizes in a long time. We have a very good team and want to create something great this season.”

'We’re on our way to doing great things'

The tie against Bayern Munich gave the team confidence, but the games before that one were important, too, as Ziyech explains: “Before the game against Bayern, we had a lot of confidence.  There’s still much of the season ahead of us, but we’re on our way to doing great things…