Ajax coach in diplomatic response to Van Dijk injury; gives Liverpool ultimate compliment

Date published: Tuesday 20th October 2020 4:32 - Matthew Briggs

Erik Ten Hag TEAMtalk

Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag admits he does not know if he is relieved Liverpool will be without Virgil Van Dijk when they meet in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Holland captain has been ruled out for several months as he needs surgery on anterior cruciate ligament damage.

The centre-back was caught by a knee-high Jordan Pickford challenge after just 11 minutes of Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

“I don’t know,” said Ten Hag when asked whether he was relieved the centre-back would be absent.

“At the end of the day it is about who is still playing. It’s not going to be a different Liverpool, they always play the same.

“The quality of Man A can switch to Man B, the whole team won’t change because Virgil Van Dijk isn’t present.

“But, the team will not get better without Van Dijk. It does not change my battle plan any further,”

Ten Hag wants his side to be bold against Jurgen Klopp’s men at the Amsterdam Arena.

“I want to see a brave Ajax against Liverpool. A team that plays with self-confidence and can implement the principles that we have agreed upon in the field.”

Ten Hag, who will be without Antony and Jurrien Timber, also hailed Klopp’s men and believes they could win the Champions League again.

“That’s why I think Liverpool are the best team in the world. Even though they have some setbacks with injuries now, they can absorb that.

“Even though the defeat against Aston Villa shows that they are not infallible.”

Tadic lauds Liverpool

Former Southampton player Dusan Tadic added. “Liverpool is a candidate to win the Champions League again. But we want to play against these kinds of teams.

“At Ajax, expectations are always high, but we have to be realistic. We have to improve every game.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool are heading to Amsterdam and they will be missing key players.

Klopp’s defensive options have been stretched further after Joel Matip did not train at Melwood and is unlikely to travel.

The Reds are already without Van Dijk, and losing Matip – who was spotted coming out of a Liverpool hospital at the weekend – is a further blow.

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