Daley Blind clearly believes the English clubs are the biggest obstacle to Ajax’s winning the Europa League, based on a recent interview with the former Manchester United man.
Blind returned to Ajax from United over the summer, after four years of football in England. He initially came through the youth ranks with the Dutch side, so after 16 years with them, it’d be a bit strange to refer to him as a ‘new signing’. Nonetheless, Ajax seem glad to have him back and have started the season in great form.
As it stands, Ajax are playing Champions League football, and sit at the top of their group.
However, with Bayern and Benfica for competition, they could find themselves dropping down into the Europa League after the group stage. Finalists in 2017, Blind believes Ajax could win the competition this time around if that’s the case, but only if they get lucky in the draw.
“Yes (we can win it), why not?” he told Inside Ajax. “Ajax now performs well in Europe. You also have to be lucky with the draw. Just look at the teams that are now in it. Arsenal and Chelsea are all in the Europa League. These are teams that will be very difficult to deal with if you encounter them.”
From an Arsenal point of view, the teams that drop down from the Champions League could significantly alter their chances of winning the competition.
For example, PSG currently sit in third, and English sides like Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United could well still end up third as well. Manchester City are very unlikely not to qualify for the knockout stages now, but they’re the only ones I’d bet money on.
We’ll have to wait and see how Ajax and the rest do in the second half of their group games.