After booking a semi-final spot in the Champions League on Tuesday by seeing off Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus in splendid fashion, Ajax have been given yet another boost in their quest for European glory as the Dutch FA has agreed to postpone an entire weekend of Eredivisie fixtures to help them prepare for the heavyweight first-leg clash at Tottenham.
Skipper Matthijs De Ligt’s clutch header in the 67th minute proved to be the winning goal which led his team to their first Champions League semi-final in 22 years. Ajax also overcame Real Madrid in the Round of 16, who have won the competition in each of the last three seasons.
The 19 year-old centre-back spoke after the pulsating match, “Can we can go on to win the competition? Well, we are in the semi-finals now. And we have eliminated two of the favourites in the last two rounds. The next games will be very difficult, but so were these ones. So who knows?”
The Dutch FA has recognized the fixture congestion in and around Ajax’s two legs against Tottenham Hotspur, and has hence agreed to reschedule all fixtures of the 33rd Eredivisie matchweek in order to allow the Dutch giants added time to prepare for the first leg in London.
A statement from the Dutch FA read: “It is being done to help Dutch football as a whole because it means so much to be successful in Europe.”
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag has applauded his team’s remarkable run in the Champions League. “If you look at Ajax, or any Dutch team, looking at the financial aspects, we are always the underdog. But sometimes the underdog wins. We were the underdog against Madrid and Juventus. But we were self-conscious and we knew we would have chances,” said the Dutch manager.
“But then we have to be at our top level. So we are responsible for our own actions and partially the results. So if we play well, we can beat them, he added.”
Meanwhile, Spurs’ fans have called out the English FA in the aftermath of the support given to Ajax by their Dutch counterparts. Mauricio Pochettino’s side host West Ham and travel to Bournemouth before their two legs against Ajax, which will mean that the North Londoners will play four matches in twelve days.
The Premier League is in talks with Sky Sports and BT Sports to bring forward Spurs’ match against Bournemouth, which is only played 48 hours before the second leg in Amsterdam. The fixture-change will be announced in the coming days.