The 90 minutes against Atalanta are crossroads for ambitions Ajax

Ajax has to win from Atalanta tonight in the Johan Cruijff Arena to reach the next round of the Champions League. Not only because of the sporting aspect ("Ajax must structurally tie in with the European top"), but also from a financial point of view.

The final place in the Europa League in (2017) and a semi-final place in the Champions League (2019) have revived Ajax's expectations.

European top

"We want to structurally join the European top: semi-final or final in the Europa League or hibernate in the Champions League". General director Edwin van der Sar wound no further than a year and a half ago. This statement was repeated a number of times.

Before last season Ajax again experienced a strong Champions League adventure and everything seemed to go well. Ajax won 0-3 in Valencia, defeated Lille twice and played spectacularly equal in London against Chelsea: 4-4.

'The glorious era of Ajax that was not an era', de Volkskrant headlines a year ago. AD described it in similar words: 'Loss of Ajax can just be the end of era'.

Ajax can and wants to prove to Atalanta that the Amsterdam club is one of the best sixteen teams in Europe. A similar scenario as last year is lurking, although now only a victory counts.

It will also be a welcome financial injection. A group game victory will bring the club 2.7 million euros. And a victory means that Ajax is placed for the next round. That makes another 9.5 million euro.

A large sum of money that comes as a call in a coronary year. By way of illustration: Ajax loses around 6 million euros in European receipts (ticket sales) alone. Last year, with a total of six European home games, Ajax was able to credit over 10 million euros.

A contest of 12 million

It's gonna be a 12 million match against Atalanta. That will undoubtedly play through the treasurer's head tonight, but it won't put extra pressure on the coach.

"I don't feel that financial pressure, but we are putting ourselves under pressure," Ten Hag said Tuesday. "Because we want to be among the best sixteen in Europe and we'll do everything we can to stick with it."

Ten Hag knows that the millions are important to the club, but as a trainer, he thinks above all about the development of his team and the image of the European top. "The Champions League platform is our life and we want to give it everything. Then you're in the spotlight and we love it."


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