De Jong doubt for Juventus game
The Dutch club travel to Turin for the second-leg of their quarter-final encounter with the game poised at 1-1 after the first leg. The midfielder limped off in Ajax’s Eredivisie game against Excelsior on Saturday but has been named in the travelling party to face the Bianconeri.
“De Jong is still in doubt,” the coach told a pre-match press conference on Monday.
“After tonight’s training, we will see. The fact that he is not training yet is not decisive in terms of whether he will play. We don’t test it that way. We live hour by hour, day by day. We are willing to take a responsible risk. Frenkie has to listen carefully to his body and ultimately I make the decision. We are in a positive way.”
De Jong’s agent, Ali Dursun, meanwhile, said that his client’s substitution was precautionary and that he’d be fit to play. De Jong, who will join Barcelona in the summer, will be critical if Ajax are to progress in the competition, with Ten Haag admitting Juventus are favourites.
“Juve are the favourites, especially after the Amsterdam result. If we play well, we can overcome any limit.
In the round of 16, Ajax defeated Real Madrid 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg to overcome a 2-1 deficit from the first game.
They will attempt to upset the odds again without Argentina international left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, who misses out through suspension. Ten Haag believes they have cover at that position and says they will not man-mark Juve danger man Cristiano Ronaldo.
“[Noussair] Mazraoui can play there, but so can [Daley] Sinkgraven. We can also move [Daley] Blind. We are not going to put a permanent man on Ronaldo – we will never do that.”
Ajax face an uphill battle to advance, especially given Juventus’ record in European knockout games after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Of seven ties with that score after one game, Juventus have advanced six times, including once over Ajax, albeit in 1978.