Erik ten Hag is relieved that a few bizarre days came to a good end with the 1-2 victory on Tuesday at FC Midtjylland. After negative retesting, Ajax’s trainer still had access to a number of important basic forces, although they arrived much later for the Champions League game in Herning.
Klaassen listened to game discussion on the way
“Ajax needs all players to perform well in the Champions League, but we were in danger of losing a lot on Monday”, Ten Hag refers to the positive corona tests of André Onana, Davy Klaassen, Ryan Gravenberch, Zakaria Labyad and Maarten Stekelenburg, who did not travel with the selection to Denmark on Monday afternoon.
“That is difficult to accept as a professional. But again, I am happy and grateful that football continues.”
Ajax immediately requested re-tests and they were all negative, so that the six could still play against the Danish champion. “But of course they were crazy days for us”, Ten Hag continues. “We didn’t know on Monday who to do it with against Midtjylland.”
After a negative retest Monday evening, Onana, Tadic, Gravenberch and banker Labyad received the green light from the Danish authorities and UEFA to go to Denmark.
Klaassen and Stekelenburg followed on Tuesday afternoon, although the two had to hurry. They went straight from the airport to the stadium. “On the way Klaassen was able to listen to the match discussion on his phone”, says Ten Hag, who decided to keep the midfielder out of his base. Jurgen Ekkelenkamp started at the place of the experienced Klaassen.
“I had already promised Ekkelenkamp that he could start. I can’t just disappoint him, it doesn’t work that way.”
Halfway through Klaassen came on the field to replace Ekkelenkamp, when the 1-2 final score was already on the scoreboard. Ajax held its own with great difficulty and thus won the important victory.
“With Klaassen there in the second half, we regained control of the game. That was necessary”, says Ten Hag. “We can do better than we have shown, but all the uncertainty about those corona tests has also had an adverse effect on our preparation. In all probability the positive tests were false. That is not the first time, but fortunately it has no consequences now. . “
Because of the victory, Ajax climbed to second place in group D. The Amsterdam club benefited from the hard defeat of Atalanta against Liverpool, which won 0-5 in Bergamo. Both Ajax and Atalanta have four points halfway through the group stage, but the goal difference of the Eredivisionist is slightly better (4-4 to 6-7).