Ajax will stay grounded and their youthful naivety could be helpful in the Champions League, according to former goalkeeper Joey Didulica.
A stunning 4-1 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday saw the Dutch giants reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002-03, moving through 5-3 on aggregate.
The likes of Frenkie de Jong (21) and Matthijs de Ligt (19) are leading the way for a youthful Ajax, while former Southampton attacker Dusan Tadic is in incredible form at the age of 30.
Didulica, who helped Ajax reach the last eight 16 years ago, said the four-time European champions’ history would keep the players balanced.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) March 6, 2019
“There’s a naivety to it all, which can help you,” the former Croatia international told Omnisport.
“At the end of the day, it can work against you because you haven’t got that experience of knowing the situation, you haven’t been there before, but it can be a plus as well.
“You don’t know what you’re capable of yet and also the opposition doesn’t know what these young kids are capable of. There are definitely the pros but there are also the cons.
“I know Ajax and I know the culture within the club there and I know the people around and the reason they’re doing so well is because of the people around at the club, which is not a club where these guys are the legends, these guys are the best ever. These guys are just one of 100.
“They won’t get ahead of themselves.”
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) March 5, 2019
With Madrid and the big-spending Paris Saint-Germain out, Juventus on the ropes against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona yet to secure progression and one of Liverpool or Bayern Munich certain to exit, the quarter-finals are set to be somewhat open.
Didulica, who won the 2001-02 Eredivisie at Ajax, hopes the Amsterdam giants can go on to claim Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 1995.
“I think if you want to win a Champions League, you need to really have a bit of luck, but you need a lot of quality for a long time,” he said.
“One-off games, certainly, that naivety, that young exuberance, the energy can take you one or two games, three or four, but long term, you’ll come to where you are.
“I hope they go a long way. I love Ajax, I love the feel of the club, I love what it stands for. I think a lot more clubs need to have that sort of philosophy.”
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