Ajax manager Erik ten Hag claims that his “very technically-gifted players” and style of football had both Juventus and Real Madrid “scared”.
Following their sensational comeback win against Real in the previous round, Ajax stunned Juventus in Italy by claiming a surprise 2-1 second leg victory in their quarter-final tie.
The Dutch giants delivered a superb performance in Turin that saw goals from Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt cancel out Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener. It enabled Ajax to book their first semi-final spot in the Champions League since 1997.
Although De Ligt boldly claimed afterwards that Ajax could have beaten Juventus 4-1 – which was the exact same scoreline they defeated Real by in Spain.
And Ten Hag appears to agree with his star centre-back, while adding that Ajax had both Juventus and Real running scared.
“I think it was an incredible night for Ajax, the players and all of Dutch football,” said Ten Hag, according to Goal.
“We have again knocked out one of the Champions League favourites, as with our philosophy, we can go beyond our limitations and we’ve done it again.
“You could see that Juve were a little scared of us and so were Real Madrid. It is very difficult to play against our style of football, as we have very technically-gifted players and it’s tough to press us. Even in defence, only we know how to perform that variable pressing game.
“We played the first leg well, so we had confidence and also patience, which we needed to escape the Juve pressing in the first half.
“During the half-time break, we talked about the pressing on Emre Can, as the wingers had to push forward more, keeping Lasse Schone and Frenkie de Jong closer together.
“The spaces opened up and we could go to attack. Juventus had to defend at that moment, but we went 2-1 up and had many more scoring opportunities.
“Our tie with Real Madrid was similar, as again we should’ve scored more goals in Amsterdam. We need to convert more of our chances and kill games off earlier. Having said that, I am very happy and proud of the team and the whole staff.”
Either Manchester City or Tottenham will be awaiting Ajax in the semi-finals of the competition.
The two Premier League sides will go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium tonight for the return leg of their quarter-final tie.
Ten Hag added: “Pep Guardiola has a pretty similar philosophy to mine. If we play the way we did against Real Madrid and Juventus, then we ought to feel confident against either of these teams too.”