Ajax hopeful De Jong will be fit to face Juventus
Coach Ten Hag confident his side can spring another upset, this time in Turin
Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong leaves the pitch during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and Excelsior at The Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam on Sunday. Photograph: Olaf KRAAK/ ANP/ AFP
Ajax Amsterdam are hopeful midfielder Frenkie de Jong will be fit to face Juventus in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg clash, coach Erik ten Hag said.
The 21-year-old went off after just 22 minutes of the Dutch league game against Excelsior Rotterdam on Saturday clutching his hamstring but coach Ten Hag said it was a precaution.
“We will see, we are positive he can play,” he said. “We took him off for prevention, we hope he can play but we will see if it is possible. We will see after this evening’s training.”
De Jong, who moves to Barcelona at the end of the season, had an impressive showing in last week’s clash in Amsterdam which ended 1-1.
“Frenkie himself will have to decide if he is ready, and eventually I decide if he will play,” added Ten Hag.
The coach said he was confident his team could pull off another upset after eliminating holders Real Madrid in the round of 16.
“I’m confident because of the way we are playing and training. We are stronger and we are showing it game by game,” he said. “Juventus are the favourites, especially after the Amsterdam result,” he added.
“If we play well, we can overcome any limit.”
Ten Hag said he was ready for a tactical switch by his rival Massimiliano Allegri.
“Allegri is very knowledgeable and has certainly thought of a different way to approach this game compared to last week,” he said. “We need to improve our tactical plan.”
Allegri wants his team to show the same intensity they had in beating Atletico Madrid. Juventus overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-0 second leg win over Atletico in the previous round and, although a goalless draw will suffice this time after last week’s 1-1 draw in Amsterdam, Allegri was under no illusions.
“The first leg result counts for nothing,” he said, adding that Juventus needed to improve on their display in Amsterdam.
“We need to be more lucid with our passing and we need to be more accurate in building attacks which we did less well in Amsterdam, and we must show great respect for Ajax.
“We must also show the same intensity we showed against Atletico Madrid . . . If we do those things, we can progress to the next round.”
Allegri confirmed that forward Mario Mandzukic would miss the match through injury and that veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini was also ruled out.