Football

Don’t sleep on Champions League dreamers Ajax

The early success for Ajax this season has come both domestically and in Europe. They lead the Eredivisie by a point after nine games, with just one loss to their name. More frighteningly, however, is their goals scored/conceded record.

Erik ten Hag’s side have smashed in 32 goals, 17 of which arrived in three incredible matches in the space of a week. It started with a stunning 9-0 win over Cambuur, followed by a 5-0 win at Fortuna Sittard just three days later. For good measure, they then put three past Groningen four days after that.

Defensively, it has somehow been even more impressive, with the young outfit conceding just two goals to date.

Champions League dreams for Ajax

And as for the Champions League, a superb campaign so far reached its highest point on Tuesday evening. The men in red and white prepared for a stern test against a talented Borussia Dortmund side with two wins from two in Group C.

But world-beater Erling Haaland was a mere bystander at the Johan Cruyff Arena. His side were demolished 4-0 by a ruthless Ajax outfit. It was a real statement of intent from the home side, who sit top of the table with three wins from three. They join European giants Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus as the only clubs to gain maximum points at the halfway stage.

That memorable win against Dortmund came after 5-1 and 2-0 wins against Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas respectively.

Haller showing all his class

And it was the former in which Sebastien Haller reminded the footballing world of his existence. The ex-West Ham man thumped in four goals that night, also netting against Besiktas and Dortmund. His total for the campaign now sits at six, and puts him at the very top of the pile. Both Mohamed Salah and Robert Lewandowski find themselves behind the Ivory Coast striker.

The 27-year-old also has six in the league, a promising sign for Ajax considering their recent campaigns. The club once had names such as Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scooping the league’s Golden Boot. But their last striker to win even their own top scorer award was Kasper Dolberg in 2016/17.

Ajax won’t be complaining about the likes of Dusan Tadic topping their charts. The ex-Southampton man hit an astonishing 38 goals in 2018/19. But it is undoubtedly a welcome sign to see an out-and-out striker hitting superb form.

Can Ajax continue their fine form?

It is certainly a very exciting team that has been assembled. Everyone knows they are a club that has constant player turnaround, such is their ability to produce future stars. But every now and then, they show real signs of real promise.

They have, of course, lost key men in Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.

But Brazilian winger Anthony may just be the next big thing coming out of the Netherlands. And there is similar hype around centre-back Jurrien Timber. The youngsters have no doubt been helped by the experienced heads of Tadic and Daley Blind.

The 2018/19 Champions League campaign was one to remember for the Amsterdam outfit. The semi-finals were reached back then… can they reach similar heights this season?

About the author

mm

Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment