The disappointment is of course huge with the players of Ajax after the elimination in the Champions League, but there is also the realization that the European adventure is not over yet. Due to third place in group H, the team from Amsterdam remains the knock-out phase of the Europa League after the winter break and Donny van de Beek and Daley Blind think that much is possible there.
"The season is not over. We still have the competition and the cup and we will eventually compete in the Europa League, although it is difficult to say so now," said Blind, who won the Europa League. with Manchester United. In 2017, with the English club in the final battle in Stockholm, he was 2-0 too strong for Ajax.
"Whether it's a nice cup to win? Every cup is nice to win. If we can grow in the tournament after the winter, fantastic things are possible. Anyway, let's be clear that it hurts so much now that we no longer play the Champions League. I am grumpy. "
Van de Beek already played for Ajax during the 2017 EL final and was then an opponent of Blind. At the time, the team from Amsterdam dealt with clubs such as Schalke 04 and Olympique Lyon in the knock-out phase and this time Ajax can also hit large clubs. Internazionale, Arsenal, Benfica, Sevilla and again Manchester United will play in the 'second' European tournament after the winter.
"I'm not going to say: we are going to win the Europa League. But we can certainly go a long way and of course we want that too," says Van de Beek. "It's switching, but I know from three years ago that the Europa League can also be a great tournament. We want to rise to great heights again."
270Review CL: 'Ajax may have more dreams in Europa League'
"Europe likes to watch our football"
Incidentally, AZ will also be there after the winter break in the Europa League, although the Alkmaarders in the sixteenth finals can not yet be linked to Ajax. On Sunday in Alkmaar, AZ will be an opponent in the Eredivisie and if Ajax is defeated, the team of coach Arne Slot will be in line with the Amsterdam leader.
"We can lose a lot in a week," says Van de Beek. "It will be a super important game on Sunday and so we have to be back again soon. That is possible, even though the elimination in the Champions League has arrived hard. From first to third place, I am devastated."
Before the closing group match against Valencia, Ajax led the group with ten points. Due to the 0-1 loss in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, the Spaniards passed the Amsterdam team and Chelsea, who won 2-1 against Lille OSC, passed the team of coach Erik ten Hag.
"If you take ten points in this group and dominate in most matches, I think you deserve to continue in the Champions League," Blind says. "Especially against Valencia and Chelsea we have shown football that the whole of Europe likes to watch."
"The joy at Chelsea and Valencia was also great when they defeated us in Amsterdam, which says a lot about the renewed status of Ajax. But we don't buy anything for it. We have to make do with the Europa League."
240Ajax-Valencia summary (0-1)
The draw for the sixteenth finals is Monday
The draw for the sixteenth Europa League finals is Monday in Nyon, Switzerland. It is possible that Ajax and AZ Feyenoord will be the third Dutch club to go, but the team from Rotterdam must win at FC Porto on Thursday and then they are still dependent on the result of the other group match between Rangers FC and Young Boys. The matches in Porto and Glasgow start at 9 p.m.
The 16th finals of the Europa League will be played on 20 and 27 February and the final battle will be in Gdansk, Poland, on 27 May.
See also: Ten Hag thinks Ajax's Champions League elimination 'incredibly bitter'