‘Opportunity to reintroduce Ajax’
“We are back,” says Ajax captain Dusan Tadic the day before the Europa League match against Union Berlin. His coach John Heitinga says more or less the same thing, but with an important addition.
“We are on the road back, but we also know we are not there yet.” Only to add later that Ajax will have to prove itself again in Europe. “We have been spoiled in recent years with great matches and results. Now we get the chance to reintroduce ourselves in Europe.”
‘Skills of top coach’
It is a message that resonates within the player group, according to Tadic. “Heitinga provides new energy. So far I have been very impressed with him. He possesses the three qualities a top coach should have as far as I’m concerned: a strong character, social skills and the ability to manage everything.”
Tadic impressed by Heitinga: ‘Skills that top coach needs’
Ajax will most likely have Steven Bergwijn at their disposal again against the Germans. The striker had to miss the meeting with RKC Waalwijk last weekend, but participated in full training on Wednesday.
“It remains to be seen how his body reacts to this, but there is a good chance he will be there,” said Heitinga, who also toyed aloud with the idea of moving Edson Álvarez back up a line to midfield to make room at the back for Calvin Bassey: “That could definitely happen.”
It has not escaped Heitinga’s notice that the upcoming opponent has come a long way since he himself was active in the German capital with Hertha BSC in 2014/2015. “Back then, Union played a level lower, but now they are second in the Bundesliga, just one point behind Bayern. That’s impressive.”
“We will have to play almost the perfect game, because they are strong on the switch and in standard situations. That’s why it’s important that we play focused and disciplined.”