Ajax Amsterdam’s quest for the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League trophy has been given a boost, with the Royal Dutch Football Federation making some changes which will accommodate Ajax’s spot in the semi-finals and make things easier for them.
The Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) has postponed the coming weekend’s fixtures in the Dutch top flight – the Eredivisie – to May, in order to allow players more rest between Dutch league games and Champions League games.
Ajax was supposed to play an Eredivisie game against De Graafschap on Sunday April 28, to be followed on April 30 with the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Citing concern for the welfare of players, the Football Federation of the Netherlands said it was not possible for clubs to play two games within just three days: there has to be at least two days of rest between the games.
According to the Dutch Football Federation, their postponement of the local league fixtures was not really done to give Ajax an advantage in the Champions League but was rather based on players’ welfare and the pressure on players who will have only one day’s rest between two games.
Nonetheless, it has been 24 years since a Dutch football club lifted the Champions League trophy and this move is widely seen as a decision to help Ajax; and it will surely benefit the club by helping them perform better against Tottenham Hotspur on April 30. Spurs who will play on Saturday April 27 before the two sides meet, will now face an Ajax side who would have had a free weekend to rest.
Ajax have won the Champions League four times and seem intent on joining the clubs who wear the badge of honour. The club is on course, having proven themselves as giant slayers in this current campaign by knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus.
Coincidentally, this move by The Dutch Football Federation comes after sports pundit and former England striker Gary Lineker complained recently that the English Football Association was not looking after its own clubs playing in the Champions League.
Liverpool and Manchester City played on Sunday 14th April just before their respective Champions League matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving the players only one or two days’ rest.