Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag has changed his line-up for the Europa League match against Lille OSC: Daley Blind moves from the rear to the midfield and Dusan Tadic starts in rush hour. In conversation with ESPN, the final manager gives extra text and explanations.
Blind replaces the suspended Ryan Gravenberch on the midfield, putting Lisandro Martínez at the centre of the back. “The most important consideration is: they play more or less with two spires (Yusuf Yazici and Jonathan David, red.), with outdoor players very much on the inside (Timothy Weah and Jonathan Bamba, red.). We think we can get Daley into a role to get three to two or four to three on the midfield, between the lines. From there, he can start making the game. Then you bring him into his power and then you bring the team into his power,” says the Ajax trainer.
Because Sébastien Haller is not a member of the Europa League, Tadic is at the peak of service in northern France. “Something else is expected from the people around him. Well, that‘s what we trained for,” says Ten Hag. “Dusan is a player who likes to play in the ball. There is also his strength, to move the game from there. But then you have to have people behind you who also have depth. Of course, we have that in the base with Neres and Antony. But then they have to take the right positions. Especially the coherence — I must mention Davy Klaassen in that — must be good.”
Ten Hag draws courage from last season’s Champions League matches against Lille: Ajax won both times, without scoring a goal. “How we play football is not their own and we already saw it last year”, it sounds. “They are not used to that: a team that puts high pressure — as we do — a team that is well at the ball — as we can. They have trouble with that.”