Tuesday April 16 2019
Ten Hag: 'Ajax tough to play against'

Erik ten Hag explained Ajax are “very difficult to play against and only we know how to perform that variable pressing” after knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus.

The first leg ended 1-1 in Amsterdam, but just like the turnaround to eliminate Real Madrid in the Round of 16, the Dutch masters secured another precious away victory.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener was cancelled out by Donny van de Beek and then Matthijs de Ligt nodded in the winner.

“I think it was an incredible night for Ajax, the players and all of Dutch football,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“We have again knocked out one of the Champions League favourites, as with our philosophy, we can go beyond our limitations and we’ve done it again.

“You could see that Juve were a little scared of us and so were Real Madrid. It is very difficult to play against our style of football, as we have very technically-gifted players and it’s tough to press us. Even in defence, only we know how to perform that variable pressing game.

“We played the first leg well, so we had confidence and also patience, which we needed to escape the Juve pressing in the first half.

“During the half-time break, we talked about the pressing on Emre Can, as the wingers had to push forward more, keeping Lasse Schone and Frenkie de Jong closer together.

“The spaces opened up and we could go to attack. Juventus had to defend at that moment, but we went 2-1 up and had many more scoring opportunities.

“Our tie with Real Madrid was similar, as again we should’ve scored more goals in Amsterdam. We need to convert more of our chances and kill games off earlier. Having said that, I am very happy and proud of the team and the whole staff.”

The tempo Ajax are able to keep in comparison with other teams is remarkable, especially considering the lack of squad rotation.

“We train well and always have a plan. Training is important, working together with the medical staff, and of course the quality of the players.”

Ajax had not reached the semi-finals since 1996-97 and become the first Dutch side to get there since PSV Eindhoven in 2004-05.

“For many years, Dutch football was on the slide, but we have some incredible talents at the moment and it can keep getting better.”

Their next opponents will be either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.

“Pep Guardiola has a pretty similar philosophy to mine. If we play the way we did against Real Madrid and Juventus, then we ought to feel confident against either of these teams too.”

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