Dutch delight: Why Ajax’s remarkable Champions League run is so welcome
There is a clip doing the rounds on social media from Ajaxs victory against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday night which almost perfectly encapsulates the Dutch team and their remarkable Champions League run this season.
The game is 10 minutes into the second half, with the score at 1-1.
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana collects the ball on the edge of his box, before laying it off to a defender to start a mesmeric chain of one-twos and intricate triangles, all the way up to the Juventus box before Hakim Ziyechs shot is blocked.
While there is no goal on the end of the sublime sequence of play, it is thrilling, spell-binding, and it condenses into less than 20 seconds the essence of what Ajax have brought to the Champions League this season.
Erik ten Hags team had the youngest average age – 24 – of all the teams in the knockout stages of this years competition.
But they have shown no respect for their elders.
Not content with dethroning Real Madrid in the last round – ending the Spaniards three-year reign as Champions League kings – on Tuesday night in Turin, Ajax slayed another giant in Juve, taking Ronaldo down with them as the Dutch club won 2-1 to clinch thieir quarter-final tie 3-2 on aggregate.
Nor have Ajax shown respect to the financial imbalances so pronounced in modern football.
The Amsterdam clubs entire wage bill is €4 million ($4.5 million) less than what Ronaldo earns before tax at Juventus.
The entire Ajax team starting 11 on Tuesday was assembled at a cost almost half of that which Juventus paid out for their Portuguese star in the summer.
What Ajax are doing is nothing short of amazing
A team that reached the Champions League semi-finals assembled for less than what Man Utd paid for Fred pic.twitter.com/HvVtJ4ug5g
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 17, 2019
But as one famous Johan Cruyff quote widely shared on social media recently professed: “Why couldnt you beat a richer club? Ive never seen a bag of money score a goal.”
Indeed, this current Ajax crop have played with the fearless, attack-minded approach that draws on the Total Football heritage of Cruyff and the great Rinus Michels from the 1970s, when Ajax established themselves among the continent's footballing royalty with three European Cup wins in a row.
That name was burnished further with the last Ajax team to win the Champions League in 1995, when a majestic side boasting the likes of Frank Rijkaard, the de Boer brothers, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert beat AC Milan in Vienna.
Ajax have had their respected name to trade on in recent years, but in reality, have had little else, essentially being seen as a feeder club to many of their wealthier European counterparts as emerging talents have been snapped up season after season.
In the past few seasons alone they have lost talents such as Davy Klaason to Everton and Davinson Sanchez to Tottenham.
When they reached the Europa League final in 2017 – where they lost to Manchester United – manager Peter Bosz was subsequently tempted away by German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Inevitably, Europes big teams will swoop in on the current crop oRead More – Source