Ten Hag: We must play our own way against Juve

Erik ten Hag says Ajax must focus on their own game ahead of Juventus' trip to Amsterdam for the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Erik ten Hag   -  Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag says his side must focus on playing their own way when they tackle Juventus in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final.

The Eredivisie giants have reached the last eight for the first time since 2003 courtesy of a shock 4-1 win over holders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the round of 16.

Ten Hag is fully aware of the threat posed by the Serie A champions but believes his side have enough in their locker to get through.

"We must play our way against Juventus," he told Tuesday's news conference ahead of the opening leg in Amsterdam.

"The most important thing is the result tomorrow. We are only thinking about the match against the Bianconeri.

"We have a good midfield, we manage possession well but when we don't have it we have to be good at recovering the ball as soon as possible.

RELATED | Ronaldo back in training ahead of Ajax vs Juventus

"Tactically, we are strong and we can field players in different positions."

Giorgio Chiellini is absent for Juventus with a calf injury but Ten Hag says the Italian defender can be replaced.

"Chiellini is a very important player for Juventus but they have several players who can take his place," he added. "We will certainly have to give it our best."

Good if Ronaldo plays

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo   -  Getty Images

 

Ten Hag is keen for Ajax to face the challenge of going up against Cristiano Ronaldo, even if his presence makes the prospect of progressing tougher.

"I think it's nice if Ronaldo plays," Ten Hag told reporters.

"We want to play against the best possible opponent. That's a challenge and we like to face challenges. It's fantastic if you can compete against a player like Ronaldo."

Ajax, four-time European champion, has not reached this stage of the Champions League since 2003 and Ten Hag opened up about the difficulties faced by Eredivisie sides in the competition.

"Of course it's very important for Ajax being back at the top again. I repeat, financially things have changed a lot nowadays," he explained.

RELATED | Ronaldo's return vital to Juventus's Champions League success

"It has become harder for a small country like Netherlands to compete in the Champions League at the quarter-final stage. Portugal is managing to do so, now Netherlands is able to do the same.

"But other than that, there are no other countries who can measure themselves with top clubs. But also for the Champions League, I think it's a good cause. It would be bad if every year if the same teams are competing in the quarter-finals.

"I don't think the real football fan would like to see that. I think football should also be about surprises. It's nice that we can make it happen this year."