Ajax takes on Rapid Vienna on Wednesday night in the first leg of their key Champions League qualifier tie.
However, there is more than just Ajax’s future in the competition at stake, broadcaster Nos points out. The Netherlands has been slipping down the Uefa rankings and is in danger of losing its automatic placement in the top European club competition.
The Netherlands currently occupies 10th place in the rankings, but that is largely due to the successful 2011/12 season, Nos says. If the Netherlands dips below 12th place this year, the Dutch league champion will have to play qualifying matches to reach the Champions League group stage in the 2016/17 season.
In that respect, Go Ahead Eagles short-lived European adventure was ‘disastrous’ for Dutch football, Nos says. The Deventer side, relegated to the first division this season, qualified when FC Twente refused the ‘fair play’ ticket because of the club’s financial problems and were knocked out immediately.
However, Dutch football association technical director Jelle Goes said he will not blame Go Ahead. ‘I want to emphasis that all the Dutch teams playing in European football over the past years are responsible for the poor performance,’ he told the broadcaster. ‘We regard this as a major problem.’
There are five Dutch clubs left in the European competition. PSV qualifies automatically for the Champions League as Eredivisie winner. Ajax is hoping for a Champions League place while Groningen, AZ and Vitesse are in the Europa League.
The prospects are gloomy, Nos says. Vitesse, which has lost several key players this year, faces English ‘millionaire’ side Southampton, and AZ will be without five star players for its match against Istanbul Basaksehir.
Groningen, as Dutch Cup winner, qualifies automatically for the group round and has also lost two key team members – Tjaronn Chery and Maikel Kieftenbeld.
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