Slot refuses to call Feyenoord favorites in cup classic: ‘Is close’
Slot sees no favorite for third Classic: ‘Is close’
Who is the favorite for Wednesday night’s Cup Classic: proud premier league leader Feyenoord or still the troubled Ajax? Feyenoord coach Arne Slot had an answer: neither.
Ajax coach John Heitinga somewhat crept into the underdog role earlier in the day. “Feyenoord is the favorite,” he said then. “They play at home. Nationally and internationally they impress.”
But Slot refused to fully embrace that offered favorite role. In the league, Rotterdam ended in a 1-1 draw. In Amsterdam two weeks ago, Feyenoord won 3-2.
The difference in quality was minimal, Slot thought. “Both away and at home I think it was very close. We had another huge chance to win at De Kuip, while Mohammed Kudus could have shot Ajax into the lead at the Arena. Moments later, we scored the winning goal. That does show how close it was.”
Storm in a glass of water
At the press conference leading up to the third Classic of the season, it was also about the moment shortly before the previous edition, when captains Orkun Kökçü and Dusan Tadic did not shake hands.
What exactly happened? Not much, Slot explained. “That was much less exciting than people suggested. It took a while for Tadic to stand at the toss. Then there was a little confusion about who was going to kick off. That was all.”
A (small) storm in a glass of water, then. “Tomorrow, as captain of the home side, Orkun will be the first to hold out his hand. And Tadic won’t refuse it, surely.”
Wellenreuther on goal
In the previous Klassieker, goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther played a crucial role, with a clever reflex on Kudus’ shot. The German also excelled against Shachtar Donetsk and Sparta. “Now that he has played more, you can see that he is also starting to grab those extra balls. Fine for him and for us.”
Meanwhile, Justin Bijlow is nearing match fitness again. “Justin has had two full training sessions now, but today’s training did not amount to much because we play tomorrow. But we know that he can return to form very quickly after being out. That when he is fit he will be our first goalkeeper, everyone knows.”