The manager described the team’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Tottenham as “the biggest game ever” at the stadium
Erik ten Hag ruled out the possibility of Ajax playing for a draw in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham, which he branded “the biggest game ever in the Johan Cruijff ArenA”.
Donny van de Beek’s 15th-minute goal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week ensured Ten Hag’s men go into the home leg with a 1-0 aggregate lead.
A draw against Spurs would be enough to book Ajax’s place in the final at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on June 1, but when asked whether his side need to go for the win in order to make sure they progress, Ten Hag told reporters: “Yes, we do.
“That’s how we will step on the pitch, with a 0-0 score in mind. I want my team to reach a higher level than we already have reached this season, and to win.
“We have to win the match [on Wednesday] and we’ll play to our strengths. We have to win. It’s a new game we have to play.
“The away goal was important last week. We will play in an arena with an incredible atmosphere and we hope that will help us.”
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax)May 6, 2019
Ajax clinched their first piece of silverware this season after beating Willem II 4-0 in the KNVB Beker final on Sunday, and they have lost just one of their last 17 games in all competitions.
But Ten Hag stressed there was no chance of complacency among his squad.
“Well you play against a Premier League team, the intensity is a little bit different,” said the Ajax boss.
“We won’t [have to] show the squad a motivational video or something. I think this is the biggest game ever in the Johan Cruijff ArenA and that should give the players enough motivation.”
Asked how Ajax fans might feel about the possibility of midfielder Frenkie de Jong facing Barcelona in the final with his move to Camp Nou looming at the end of the season, Ten Hag said: “We don’t care about these subjects.
“We are focused on [Wednesday] only.”