A Guide to Tonight’s Opponents – Ajax

Robert Pollard

Tonight, City play Ajax in Amsterdam. Here are some quotes and stats to familiarise yourselves with our opponents before the big game.

Coach Frank de Boer

From our Under-12s up to the Under-19s, I know almost exactly what we have. I know each of them by name and everything about them. It is very important for me to be involved because in three years they could be one of the top players in my squad.

Mancini at City is like Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. They normally buy mature, ready-made players who already have the experience.

Of course, they are good coaches too so they will also develop players but, in my job, my players are young so I can see them grow as players and men in a small period. For me it is enjoyable to develop them.

We have to be creative. Normally we have to get players when they are 16. At 18 or 19 it is already too late.

Our philosophy is that we want about 70% of our first team to have come from our own youth academy. It is our lifeline to survive against bigger clubs, and if we hit that 70% mark then it shows that doing it our way is working.

We don’t spend money if we can help it. We look at the youth teams first and have a policy of giving a chance to our own, rather than trying to sign a player from outside that we have to pay four or five million euros for.

UEFA Champions League statistics

• Niklas Moisander’s goal on matchday two was the first time Ajax have scored against Real Madrid CF in five group stage encounters.
• The loss to Madrid marked Ajax’s 50th European Cup defeat.
• Christian Eriksen has run 26,075m, more than any other player in the group stage.
• Moisander completed 88 of his 101 attempted passes against Borussia Dortmund on matchday one; only FC Barcelona’s Xavi Hernández (120/140) managed more.

International duty

• Six Ajax players were on senior international duty last week: Ricardo van Rhijn, Kenneth Vermeer (Netherlands), Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Eriksen (Denmark), Moisander (Finland) and Tobias Sana (Sweden).
• Sana came on to make his Sweden debut as Erik Hamrén’s side recovered from four down to draw 4-4 with Germany in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on 16 October.
• Goalkeeper Vermeer received his first call-up to the senior Netherlands squad this month, but was not involved in the qualifiers against Andorra and Romania.
• Moisander captained Finland to a 1-1 home draw against Georgia on 12 October.
• Eyong Enoh returned from five months out in a 1-1 friendly draw against FK AS Trenčín at Ajax’s De Toekomst academy on 16 October.
• Thulani Serero is expected to be sidelined until the new year after tearing a groin muscle on 23 September.
• Kolbeinn Sigthórsson is likely to miss the group stage after aggravating a shoulder injury in August.
• Ajax travel to ONS Sneek for their Dutch Cup third round tie on 31 October.

Weekend result

Saturday: Heracles Almelo 3-3 Ajax (Te Wierik 61, Bruns 80, Pedro 90+1; Rienstra og 10, Schøne 25, Sana 62)
Vermeer: Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Moisander, Blind; Schøne (Fischer 84), Poulsen, Eriksen; Sana (De Sa 77), De Jong, Boerrigter (Babel 46).
• Ajax extended their unbeaten Dutch Eredivisie run to 23 games, since a 2-0 loss to FC Utrecht on 5 February.

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