Erik ten Hag compared Chelsea's philosophy under Frank Lampard to that of his own Ajax side ahead of their Champions League clash.

Chelsea have won seven of their 13 matches since Lampard replaced Maurizio Sarri in July, including five victories in a row ahead of their trip to Amsterdam.

Lampard has used Chelsea's transfer ban to his advantage by promoting the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount into the first team, but his side trail Group H leaders Ajax by three points after two matches following their home loss to Valencia last month.

Ajax caught the eye during their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season and have yet to taste defeat in any competition in 2019-20, though Ten Hag - linked with the Chelsea job prior to Lampard's appointment - suggested his side enter Wednesday's match as underdogs.

"First, last year was last year. We are building a new team and developing a new team," he said. "Now we have to step up and become better. Sometimes you fall down but you also have to step up again and be better, develop. That's only possible when you play out of your philosophy and have an attitude to be better every day.

"We kind of have the philosophy of Chelsea, when I see them and their football philosophy. They want to play football, want to play in the opponents' half and they want to press high and stay in the opponents' half, which is pretty similar to Ajax.

"We are self-aware, brave and we have faith in ourselves, but Ajax is not a favourite against big clubs from the Premier League.

"Winning is always our goal, but if it appears that a draw is the maximum result, we will do everything to get a draw."

Asked if there was any truth to the rumours linking him with Stamford Bridge vacancy earlier this year, Ten Hag replied: "No, I only focus on Ajax. No, no truth."

Daley Blind has been a regular for Ajax since rejoining the Dutch champions from Manchester United in July 2018 and echoed Ten Hag's views on Chelsea's change of direction.

"They are doing well, their philosophy, like the manager said, they want to play from the back," said Blind, who has experience of playing against Chelsea from his time at Old Trafford.

"They play different attacking football with a lot of youngsters and that's something nice to see.

"l have several good memories of playing them - they're always big games. If you pick out a player, [Eden] Hazard in the last few years was always an attractive player to watch.

"He's not there now and they're a different team. They have a lot of youngsters and it's good to see."

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag has refused to rule out a high-profile return to Bayern Munich.

Dutchman Ten Hag coached Bayern's reserves from 2013 to 2015 before returning to his homeland to join FC Utrecht.

The 49-year-old then moved to Ajax and led the powerhouse to the Eredivisie title last term, as well as the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern have struggled for consistency in the Bundesliga this season and sit third in the table, just one point above ninth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

As a result, Bayern coach Niko Kovac's future has been the subject of speculation, and when asked by Kicker if he would be open to going back to the Bundesliga giants, Ten Hag said: "I do not exclude anything."

"But I'm almost 50 and [I am] not a dreamer. It comes - or it does not come."

Asked to comment on his time in Munich, Ten Hag added: "For me, it was about coming to an association like Bayern.

"Pep Guardiola was there, and more importantly, [sporting director] Matthias Sammer with his strategic approach and mentality, which he brings to a club.

"Under Guardiola, Bayern played dominant [football] … everyone on the pitch knew what he had to do."

Despite the big-money departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Ajax have started the 2019-20 campaign in good fashion, winning eight of a possible 10 Eredivisie matches to top the table, three points ahead of rivals PSV.

Erik ten Hag was thrilled with Ajax's clinical display against Valencia, but the head coach claimed his side must improve defensively despite a second successive Champions League clean sheet.

Ajax stormed to a 3-0 victory on Wednesday at the Mestalla, making it two wins from two in Group H for last season's semi-finalists.

Things would have been different had Dani Parejo not wasted a golden chance for Valencia to equalise when he skied a penalty, however – with Quincy Promes soon adding to Hakim Ziyech's early opener to double Ajax's advantage.

Some weak defending allowed Valencia into the contest again early in the second half, but the hosts found Andre Onana in superb form.

Ten Hag acknowledged Ajax, who could still be adjusting to life without Matthijs de Ligt, must improve at the back, though he emphasised the outstanding quality of his attackers.

"There are things that could be better, such as defensively. We had problems there, but they [Valencia] also had problems with us," Ten Hag told reporters.

"We played a fantastic match and deserved to win. I still believe we have some things to improve, but we can play such fantastic football.

"At times on the sideline I can really enjoy us playing football. Not many teams can do this at [the] Mestalla."

Ajax demonstrated their slick play in the build-up to Donny van de Beek's second-half strike – Dusan Tadic slotting a deft reverse pass into the midfielder, who duly wrapped up the win.

Yet Ziyech was the star. His stunning effort opened the scoring eight minutes in, while he also saw a second long-range shot clatter off the crossbar just before half-time.

"Ziyech could excel and we could play him freely. I was hoping for that in advance, so it worked out well," said Ten Hag, who also hailed goalkeeper Onana's performance.

"Multiple players can make a difference. [Onana] is one of them. We also have creativity in attack and can play great football. We have taken a big step but we are not there yet."

As well as Parejo's woeful miss from the spot, Valencia twice hit the post through Rodrigo either side of half-time and coach Albert Celades was left to rue a glut of wasted opportunities. 

"It's a tough loss. It's a heavy defeat, maybe not deserved, but that's what happened," Celades said.

"We had chances in the first half but didn't take them, but we played well. They were more clinical than us.

"It's difficult for all of us but looking deeper than the result we are doing well. The first half was very good but they punished our poor finishing."

Ajax kept up their winning start in Champions League Group H as Dani Parejo's penalty miss proved costly for Valencia in a 3-0 away victory for Erik ten Hag's side.

Hakim Ziyech broke the deadlock in stunning fashion eight minutes in, setting the tone for a thrilling tussle which could have swung in Valencia's favour had Parejo not skied his spot-kick.

Quincy Promes thumped in Ajax's second after Parejo's miss and the woodwork denied both Rodrigo and Ziyech before half-time.

Dusan Tadic – who teed up Ziyech's opener – passed up a golden chance to further Ajax's lead after the interval, but he atoned by setting up Donny van de Beek, who duly ensured last season's semi-finalists made it two wins from two.

Jasper Cillessen had to keep his former club at bay inside the opening 25 seconds, although Van de Beek's effort would have been disallowed for offside anyway.

Cillessen, though, was left flapping at thin air as Ziyech sensationally picked out the top-left corner with a pinpoint strike.

Edson Alvarez's lunge on Goncalo Guedes gifted Valencia a reprieve, only for Parejo to lash the resulting penalty high over the bar after 25 minutes.

Valencia were made to pay nine minutes later – Promes slamming home from Van de Beek's lay off.

Rodrigo looked sure to haul one back but his flick was kept out by a combination of the upright and Andre Onana, before Ziyech clattered another wonderful effort off the bar at the other end.

Onana twice came to Ajax's rescue after the restart, tipping Rodrigo's nudge onto the post moments after getting to Ferran Torres' shot.

Tadic should have compounded Valencia's frustrations soon after but instead side-footed wide from close range, while Promes also thrashed over.

But those misses mattered little when, at the culmination of a slick move, Tadic found Van de Beek, who wrapped up the points with a typically composed finish.
 

What does it mean? Ajax 2.0 a force to be reckoned with

Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt may no longer be in Ajax's ranks, but Ten Hag's side have started their Group H campaign in the style you would expect from a team which conquered Real Madrid and Juventus en route to last season's semi-finals. 

Ajax, who have now won five successive away Champions League matches, seem to have grown in stature despite the loss of their two young stars and with the attacking talents they possess, Ten Hag's project has a real sense of longevity about it.

Ziyech makes his mark... again

With all the talent available to Ten Hag, it is easy to forget just how good Ziyech was in Ajax's run to the semis, scoring five goals and proving to be one of the best playmakers in the competition.

Though while De Jong and De Ligt moved on, Ziyech stayed despite reported interest from some of Europe's elite clubs, rather surprisingly signing a contract extension in August. His quality – as evidenced by his sublime opener and the later shot which rattled the woodwork – is in no doubt, though, and it surely cannot be long until the big boys come calling.

Parejo loses his cool

Penalty misses from Parejo do not come along often, but his effort in the first half may be one of the worst attempts Valencia's captain has ever had from 12 yards.

The Spain international has scored three spot-kicks already this term, but – after a slightly longer wait while VAR confirmed the referee's decision – he certainly lost his composure this time around.

What's next?

Valencia are back at the Mestalla on Saturday, taking on Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga, while their next group game comes against Lille on October 23. ADO Den Haag are Ajax's Eredivisie opponents on Sunday, with a home clash against Chelsea their next continental fixture.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag says his side needs to "play smarter" despite a resounding 3-0 win over Lille to open their 2019-20 Champions League campaign.

Last season's beaten semi-finalists were largely in dominant mood against their Ligue 1 opponents. Quincy Promes headed them into an 18th-minute lead before Edson Alvarez scored his first goal for the club five minutes after the interval.

Nicolas Tagliafico added a third with a thumping header after 62 minutes but Lille did carve out a number of golden opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes.

While Ten Hag was delighted to start their Group H campaign with a win, he did urge his side to sharpen up.

"My players have an enormous urge to push forward," he told Ziggo. "We have many players who want to get to the goal quickly but there are times when you have to brake and keep the ball longer. 

"Otherwise, you make the opponent stronger. From an organisational point of view, we have to play smarter.

"We sometimes want way too much and that made it an open game. We talked about it in advance because Lille are a powerful side. We want to give a final pass too quickly instead of holding the ball."

Lille coach Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, was left to rue his side's missed chances and pointed to Ajax's ruthlessness as the only difference between the two teams.

"We played as we wanted to play," he said.

"We wanted to be dangerous. The difference came in being clinical in the penalty areas. They were, and we weren't. The man of the match was the Ajax goalkeeper, which shows we created chances.

"But at this level, you have to put them away and punish your opponents. We didn't do that."

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag said Donny van de Beek could stay at the Eredivisie champions despite interest from Real Madrid.

Van de Beek has already confirmed Madrid are in talks with Ajax over his transfer as the LaLiga giants struggle to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

However, it seems €60million target and 22-year-old Netherlands international Van de Beek will remain in Amsterdam.

"[Van de Beek] only dedicates himself to playing," Ten Hag said ahead of Tuesday's second leg against PAOK, with the third-round Champions League qualifier locked at 2-2.

"I guess and I hope that he stays with us this season.

"Otherwise, I will hear from [Ajax's director of football,] Marc Overmars."

Van de Beek starred as Ajax earned a draw away to PAOK in the opening leg in Thessaloniki, while he has managed two goals in two Eredivisie matches this season.

He made 57 appearances for Ajax in 2018-19, scoring 17 goals and supplying 13 assists as Ten Hag's men clinched an Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

 

Ajax star Donny van de Beek will play against PAOK in Champions League qualifying amid interest from Real Madrid, insisted head coach Erik ten Hag.

Van de Beek confirmed Madrid were in talks with Ajax over his transfer following Saturday's 2-2 Eredivisie draw against Vitesse.

The Netherlands international midfielder emerged as a €60million target for the LaLiga giants, who have been unable to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

Ajax – Champions League semi-finalists last season – will face Greek side PAOK in Tuesday's opening leg of their third-round qualifier.

Asked about Van de Beek, Ten Hag told reporters: "He has come here and is going to play.

"He'll play next week too [in the second leg]."

Van de Beek made 57 appearances for Ajax last season, scoring 17 goals and supplying 13 assists as Erik ten Hag's men clinched an Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp deserves to win the Best FIFA Men's Coach award for winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag says.

Klopp won his first trophy in nearly four years in charge at Anfield when the Reds became champions of Europe for the sixth time by beating Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid on June 1.

The German is one of 10 nominees for FIFA's prize for the top coach in men's football, alongside the likes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, Portugal's Fernando Santos and Brazil's Copa America-winning coach Tite.

Ten Hag is also on the shortlist, having guided a thrilling Ajax side to domestic double glory and the Champions League semi-finals last season.

However, he believes Klopp would be the worthy recipient, telling Algemeen Dagblad: "It's a good list.

"With managers, we see the same thing as counts for the players. It's obvious [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi belong in the top 10, but if you focus on last season, you can't overlook Liverpool.

"In my opinion, Jurgen Klopp would be a more-than-justified coach of the year. What he achieved with Liverpool, and the way he achieved it, is very impressive."

FIFA's awards for men's and women's coaches and players contains six Dutch nominees for 2019.

Alongside Ten Hag, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong are included after sterling seasons for Ajax prior to their respective transfers to Juventus and Barcelona.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk is also included, as is Netherlands Women's star Vivianne Miedema and head coach Sarina Wiegman, who steered her side to the World Cup final.

"We've achieved something very special with Ajax and there's a lot of international appreciation for that," said Ten Hag.

"There are six nominees in total from the Netherlands. That suggests we are on the right track. It's a nice compliment for Dutch football."

Premier League rivals Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are among the candidates to win the Best FIFA Men's Coach award, while Jill Ellis heads up the Best FIFA Women's Coach nominees after she led the United States to World Cup glory.

Guardiola guided Manchester City to the Premier League, EFL Cup and FA Cup in a glittering 2018-19 campaign that saw Klopp's Liverpool push them all the way for domestic glory.

The Reds won the Champions League for the first time in 14 years, beating Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham in the final, and the Spurs boss is also in the running for the FIFA award.

There is no place on the shortlist for Massimiliano Allegri despite the former Juventus coach having clinched his fifth consecutive Scudetto with the Bianconeri, and his successor Maurizio Sarri missed out even though he won the Europa League, reached the EFL Cup final and secured a Champions League spot with Chelsea.

Ellis, meanwhile, is up against Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman whose side the USA beat in the World Cup final. The coaches of both semi-finalists, England's Phil Neville and Sweden's Peter Gerhardsson, are also on the shortlist.

Italy's Milena Bertolini is also in contention along with Lyon's Reynald Pedros, Japan Under-20s' Futoshi Ikeda, and Arsenal's Joe Montemurro.

The Best FIFA Men's Coach nominees:

Djamel Belmadi (Algeria)
Didier Deschamps (France)
Marcelo Gallardo (River Plate)
Ricardo Gareca (Peru)
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
Fernando Santos (Portugal)
Erik ten Hag (Ajax)
Tite (Brazil)

The Best FIFA Women's Coach nominees:

Milena Bertolini (Italy)
Jill Ellis (USA)
Peter Gerhardsson (Sweden)
Futoshi Ikeda (Japan U-20)
Antonia Is (Spain U-17)
Joe Montemurro (Arsenal)
Phil Neville (England)
Reynald Pedros (Lyon)
Paul Riley (North Carolina Courage)
Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)

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