As they sit, singing Three Little Birds, the heart of every AFC Ajax supporter swells with pride. Not since the great van Gaal team of the 90’s, have they had such a talented crop of players, doing the club proud on the biggest stage in Europe. Johan Cruyff, the founding father of Ajax’s footballing values, once famously said, ‘Playing football is simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.’ You would not be able to tell that it is hard, looking at the way Ajax play. They stand a realistic chance of making the UCL final after winning the first leg semi-final against Tottenham. They will have their task cut out in the second leg, but be assured there will be a lot of fight from them. For punters, this might be a good opportunity to maximize earnings. For the Second leg Champions League betting odds, click here.
In the aftermath of their win over Tottenham in the semifinals of the Champions League, goal scorer on the night Donny van de Beek remarked how he was satisfied with the result, but not the performance. Arsene Wenger remarked, ‘That shows just how much Ajax wants to play football of top quality.’ It, however, does not seem to be just about technique. Erik ten Hag’s lads have an average squad age of 21.2 years. But they have none of the raw inconsistency that is common in players that age.
They all look world beaters, ready for the biggest stage now. Whether it is the towering Matthijs de Ligt at the back, or the metronomic Frenkie de Jong in the middle of the park, Ajax have silk all over the pitch. All of 22, van de Beek’s finish against Spurs was calm and relaxed, something senior pros much older than him might well have blazed over. Of course, the trickery of David Neres and Hakim Ziyech also deserves mention. But Ajax are not just a team, they are a club that boasts of a conveyor belt of talent.
The squad that lost the Europa League final to Manchester United two years ago has blossomed, with some fresh blood, into a team worthy of the Ajax crest. Ajax have hired men that embody the club’s ethos in the positions that matter. Edwin van der Sar, the CEO of the club, and Marc Overmars, Director of Football, have done their part by convincing players to stay at the club for a while to see their vision become a reality. Ajax are happy for their players to seek pastures anew as long as they ‘give us two to three years of service, win the league, play amazing football’, in the words of van der Sar.
This also affords players in the academy an always available path to the first team. This team has revived the flailing Dutch league and made a new generation fall in love with the Johan Cruyff way. Go on then Ajax, all of Europe is the canvas to your artistry.