AZ Alkmaar boss Van Gaal: A great deal is at stake

The winner of the two-legged play-off finals against Ajax will book a place in the Champions League next season.

Van Gaal said at his weekly media briefing: “Ajax and AZ are both very well matched and a great deal is at stake.

“It is important that our players will have a chance to play in the Champions League, so they can show their skills at the highest level. Players love the Champions League’s setting and it is more attractive for the club as well. But there is not much difference as far quality is concerned between the Champions League participants and the opponents we met in the UEFA Cup campaign. We met the likes of champions Fenerbahçe and Grasshoppers, while Sevilla and Kayserispor also did very well in their domestic leagues.

“I don’t mind facing Ajax. I had spells in Amsterdam both as a player and a coach. I always inform my players of our opponents’ system and match plan. It doesn’t matter whether we play Ajax or PSV. But my players will be able to show great motivation indeed as we meet Ajax.”