Trainer Erik ten Hag thinks that on Thursday Ajax has drawn “very hard” for the group stage of the Champions League. The team from Amsterdam will take on Liverpool, Atalanta and FC Midthylland in group D.
Kudus drops out on training
“It certainly could have been easier. But this is also a very nice challenge that we will not run away from. We want to be active at this level. We are very much looking forward to the games”, Ten Hag said at a press conference in the Johan Cruijff ArenA .
Ajax will meet the champions of England and the winner of the Champions League in 2019 with Liverpool, with Atalanta the number three in Italy and quarter-finalist last year and with Midtjylland the champion of Denmark.
“Atalanta is a pressing machine. We have gained experience against Vitesse and Eintracht Frankfurt with their playing style that Dutch clubs usually have difficulty with, but Atalanta is still a bit better”, said Ten Hag.
“Liverpool is a counterpress machine. A top team with top players. They will be beautiful posters. I know the least about Midtjylland. I know they have an opportunistic playing style. You can describe this group as a clash of styles.”
Ten Hag also looked ahead to Sunday’s away match against FC Groningen in the Eredivisie. Ajax will probably have to do without star Mohammed Kudus, who sustained an injury during training this week.
“Kudus is not fit for the competition at the moment. We have to wait and see how that develops”, said Ten Hag, who did not want to reveal how he will fill the possible absence of Kudus in Groningen.
Perr Schuurs, who had to be quickly replaced by a shoulder injury last week against Vitesse, and Ryan Gravenberch, who was absent in recent weeks for unclear reasons, are probably available.
That also applies to Sean Klaiber. The right back, who was taken over from FC Utrecht on Thursday, is part of the match selection against FC Groningen, but will take place on the reserve bench.
View the program, the results and the position in the Eredivisie