Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 9:50 PM• Jonathan van Haaster

Roberto De Zerbi was unable to provide a clear analysis of Ajax during the press conference on Wednesday. The manager of Brighton & Hove Albion knows that the Amsterdam team is having a particularly difficult season. The Italian therefore had to ignore a question from a journalist.

The Europa League match between Brighton and Ajax is scheduled for Thursday. It is Ajax’s first match of the season without Maurice Steijn, who was dismissed on Monday due to disappointing results. Ajax is only seventeenth in the Eredivisie, although there are still plenty of opportunities in the Europa League after the draws against Olympique Marseille (3-3) and AEK Athens (1-1).

At the press conference, De Zerbi was asked about the weaknesses and strengths of the Amsterdammers. However, the coach was unable to say much about the opponent’s game on Thursday. “It is difficult to analyze Ajax, because they are going through a difficult phase.”

“But Ajax is still Ajax,” the manager said in generalities. “The history of Ajax is incredible. We respect them, but we are Brighton. When we play well, which we are capable of, we have a chance to win the game.”

De Zerbi also sees an advantage for Ajax. “Every year they play in Europe and during this period they play three matches a week. But it is football: if you are better, you win the match. Whether you have the history or not. But we know that it will be very difficult.” Brighton had never played in a European context before this season.

Joël Veltman was also present at the press conference. De Velsenaar, who played for Ajax for almost two decades, has a high regard for De Zerbi. The defender compares De Zerbi with Frank de Boer, under whom he played for years in Amsterdam. “Because he always demanded that you were really focused not for 90, but for 96 minutes. Tactically speaking, Roberto is really unique in his kind.”

Brighton is at the bottom of Ajax’s Europa League group after a defeat against AEK (2-3) and a draw against Marseille (2-2). Doing it in the Premier League the Seagulls again did well with a seventh place.