The players of Ajax are relieved after the difficult 3-2 victory over PAOK and with that placement for the play-offs of the Champions League. They got Tuesday after the late 3-2 of the Greeks flashbacks to the bizarre elimination against Tottenham Hotspur last season in the semifinals of the million-ball.
"That match was going through my mind for a while. I immediately asked the referee after 3-2 how long we still had to play. He said there were still 30 seconds to go. said Daley Blind.
"We all talked about it in the dressing room," Joël Veltman adds to his teammate. "After the 3-2 we all thought for a moment about the debacle against Tottenham. That makes sense even though it is still so fresh, but everyone felt that it would not happen to us again for a second time."
Ajax was very close to reaching the final of the Champions League last season. The team from Amsterdam lost a comfortable 2-0 lead in the return at home against Tottenham, with the 2-3 deep in the injury time of the second half as a dramatic end to the fairy tale.
Partly because of this Ajax must participate in the preliminaries of the Champions League this season. The team of coach Erik ten Hag stumbled almost immediately over the first hurdle of PAOK, but on Tuesday, thanks to two striking penalties by Dusan Tadic, it cleared a 0-1 deficit.
120Veltman after winning: 'Had to think of Tottenham scenario'
"The Europa League is not enough"
The players of Ajax realize that there is still much to improve in the game. At the same time, they emphasize that it was the most important thing to win from PAOK so as not to bump into a new one and end up in the less lucrative Europa League.
"Look at the elimination of FC Porto and Celtic. It is not all that self-evident anymore. Nowadays you no longer just roll over any other team. The next round will just be another very difficult one," said Veltman, who was referring to it. Cypriot APOEL Nicosia.
"The Europa League is not enough", Dusan Tadic adds. "Ajax has to play in the Champions League every year and is part of it. It's a shame that after our semi-final place we first have to play in the preliminaries. They are a bit of a lottery. In the beginning of the season it always goes a little more difficult. "
The players of Ajax know little about APOEL. Veltman was the only one of the current selection on the pitch when the clubs last faced each other in the 2014/2015 group stage of the Champions League (1-1 in Nicosia and 4-0 in Amsterdam). Tadic will soon meet three compatriots from Serbia.
"It is just such a witch's cauldron there as with PAOK, so we can wet our breast again," says Veltman. And Tadic: "In any case, it's closer than the other option, FK Qarabag. But I don't think my countrymen will give me the right information, haha."
View the results and the program in the Champions League