Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag did not get nervous about the eclatant victory of Paris Saint-Germain at FC Barcelona (1-4) in the Champions League. “Ive seen a good PSG against a bad Barcelona,” he said. “The proportions were clear. But that doesnt say anything about our duel with Lille.”
Not Paris Saint-Germain but Lille is the current leader of Ligue 1, and the team of trainer Christophe Galtier is making a name for itself this season with fast counterplay and a tight defense that has not been hit for more than 600 minutes. “They have only gotten better since our last mutual duels,” Ten Hag looked forward to Thursdays duel with Lille in the sixteenth finals of the Europa League.
Ajax won a year and a half ago with 3-0 and 0-2 from Lille. “Especially the 3-0 was quite flattered,” said Ten Hag. “If we want to continue European, then we will have to be better than a year and a half ago. They now defend even more compactly and come out faster. But if we are really good, I have faith in it.”
Ten Hag lacks four basic players with Sébastien Haller, André Onana, Ryan Gravenberch and Noussai Mazraoui. Maarten Stekelenburg will replace Onana and it seems that Lisandro Martínez will be in the team for Gravenberch. Devyne Rensch, turned 18 last month, has the last duels a dash ahead of Klaiber when Noussair Mazraoui is missing. Yet Ten Hag has no regrets that Klaiber has received about 5 million euros from FC Utrecht. “With talents, it can be fast,” he said. “Because Klaiber was there, Rensch was able to develop himself in Jong Ajax. Not everything is written in the stars.”
Earlier Ajax landed on French soil without Mazraoui. The rightback received a ball in his face during the won duel with Heracles Almelo on Saturday and had, according to Ten Hag, “just no sight.”