Frank de Boer was clearly disappointed in his team’s first half performance against FC Barcelona on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp. The Ajax manager also reckons the first half was what sealed his team’s fate as the Catalans stung the Dutch side by 3 goals to one.
In a post match press conference De Boer said that he wasn’t pleased with Ajax’s mentality in the first period but was pleased in the second, which unfortunately came a little too late for comfort with the Catalans already home free, so to speak.
“I asked the team to demonstrate our class but I did not see it in the first half. We did not show that we could play football and had just one tiny chance, but the players lifted themselves in the second and improved. In the end we did all we could to get the result but it was not enough. But it was important that we played better in the second half, that players take part in such matches and get experience. I want to see such pro-activeness from the off, not only after the break.
“When Luis Enrique was taking off his best players it was clear he was already thinking about the next game against Real Madrid. We just lacked a bit of luck. We scored one, had other chances, and who knows how it could have ended. We are inferior compared with the last season. Last year we had a completely different midfield and now we have lost some players to injuries. It is not an excuse; however, it is midfield that dictates the tempo of the game.”
Frank de Boer, who played for the Blaugranas between 1999 and 2003, was happy how his team kept the scoreline at 3-1 and praised his team for containing Messi and Neymar the way they did.He also rued that his team treated Barça with far too much respect.
“Their level (Neymar and Messi) is out of this world. In every match they perform at an extraordinary level. But I believe that Joël Veltman and Ricardo van Rhijn did well. There were a lot of one-on-one situations but they fought until the very end and Messi did not have that many opportunities. The problem for me is that we treated Barcelona with too much respect. Their first goal was fantastic, world class. But for the second we have nobody to blame but ourselves. You cannot make such mistakes against Barcelona.”
Barça can now look forward to this Saturday’s Clasico against Real Madrid knowing that they’ve done a good job against the Dutch giants. It won’t be a walk in the park either as Real Madrid have one of the best strike forces in La Liga. Should we expect lots of goals on Saturday or will it be like a game of chess with the winner snatching victory from a possible stalemate?