Champions League Last-16: Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax — Talking Points

Champions League Last-16: Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax — Talking Points

An exuberant Ajax team send shockwaves around the footballing world by knocking defending champions, Real Madrid, out of the Champions League on Tuesday night. 

The Dutch outfit took the game to the hosts at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and came away with a shocking yet thoroughly deserving 4-1 victory in the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie. 

Having won the first leg 2-1 at Ajax, defending champions, Real Madrid, were the outright favorites to book their place in the quarterfinals. However, what unfolded at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. 

The visitors took the game to their lofty rivals right from the very first minute. Their passing, movement, pressing oozed confidence, and Real Madrid couldn’t cope with the onslaught. It took the Dutch outfit only 18 minutes to storm into an aggregate lead. Forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres capitalized on Real Madrid’s defensive lapses and put two goals expertly past Thibaut Courtois. 

Real Madrid went into the half-time trailing 2-0 in the own backyard. Santiago Solari’s desperation to turn the tie around reflected in the opening stretches of the second half, as Madrid finally looked to put pressure on the visitors. However, despite playing convincingly in the middle of the pitch, they couldn’t take their chances and eventually allowed Ajax to regain their foothold. 

Soon after, Ajax added to their tally through Dusan Tadic, who curled his effort into the top-left corner. Marco Asensio pulled one goal back to offer the home crowd a glimmer of hope, but a magnificent free-kick from Ajax full-back Lasse Schone crushed Madrid’s hopes for good.

Talking Points

Ajax’s Classy Display

Most teams in the world end up paying too much respect to Real Madrid’s apparent invincibility in the Champions League. But last night, Ajax showed the world exactly how to take on a team of Real Madrid’s calibre. 

Real Madrid’s famed midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro was invisible for the most part, restricted by Ajax’s high-pressing midfield. Not only did they look exquisite on the ball, but they also managed to look aggressive without it. The VAR ruled in their favor for the third goal, but they probably deserved a bit of luck for being so magnificent at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

A Night to Forget for Real Madrid

Coming into the match on the back of two consecutive Clasico defeats, Real Madrid needed something positive to bounce back. Sadly, Ajax weren’t in no mood to help the reigning champions out. 

After finding themselves a goal down, Real Madrid tried to get back in business, but injuries to Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr threw them off their game. None of Madrid’s superstars stepped up to the plate. There were a couple of good moments, here and there, but the hosts needed more than a couple of moments to see Ajax through. 

Real’s Season Officially Dead

It took only 7 days for Real Madrid to evaporate their title chances for good. Last Wednesday, they suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Three days later, Barcelona, once again, emerged victorious – this time, a 1-0 win in La Liga, which saw Los Blancos slip 12 points behind the league leaders. 

And finally, in the tournament they love the most, they were thrashed 4-1 by Ajax, killing off their title aspirations in the worst possible manner. 

Also Read: Whom did Madrid miss the most?

Transfer News: Barcelona sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for €75 Million

Transfer News: Barcelona sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for €75 Million

Barcelona have signed Dutch youngster Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for €75 Million fee that could go up to €86 Million in add-ons. 

The 21-year-old midfielder will join the Catalan giants at the start of next Season and has been termed by Ernesto Valverde as an important addition. The player has signed a five-year contract that will kick in from the start of the 2019-2020 Season. De Jong is an extremely versatile midfielder with a special eye for through balls and passes that can split defences.

De Jong is extremely versatile and can be deployed as a central defensive midfielder or as a Central attacking midfielder. He is extremely solid at both positions and is very technical as a player, to go with all of that he is only 21 years old which means he most probably hasn’t even hit his best form yet. Barcelona released a statement yesterday on their Club’s website with details about the transfer.

“FC Barcelona and Ajax have reached an agreement for the transfer of midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who will be joining the Catalan club from 1 July 2019. The cost of the transfer operation is €75m, plus a further €11m in variables. The player will be signing a contract for the next five seasons, through to 2023-24.”

Barca fans must be ecstatic with the signing of de Jong not only because he is an extremely talented player but also because transfers between Ajax and Barcelona have held historic relevance to the Blaugrana. Club greats like Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer, Ronald Koeman, and the legendary Johan Cruyff. Fans will be expecting nothing less from Frenkie de Jong and to add to this pressure he will need to make a conscious effort to live up to the 75 Million price tag. 

Also Read: Transfer News: Kevin-Prince Boateng joins Barcelona on Loan from Sassuolo

The Club have reportedly been interested in the Dutchman since 2016 and had two bids rejected initially. This Season Barca had to fight off the likes of Manchester City and Paris St Germain to land their man and the Parisian Club reportedly came awfully close to signing de Jong but in the end, it was Barca who won the race for him.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke very highly of de Jong and expressed his happiness after confirming the transfer,

“With the arrival of Frenkie De Jong, we add talent, youth, and Barça style to our sporting project. We are convinced that he will be a key part of our team for years to come.”

David Neres – Brazilian winger signs contract extension with Ajax

David Neres - Brazilian winger signs contract extension with Ajax

21-year-old Brazil international David Neres has chosen to extend his contract with Dutch giants Ajax, keeping him at the club until 2022.

A statement from the club’s official website read: “Ajax and David Neres have reached an agreement to extend his contract, which had been effective until June 30, 2021. The Brazilian player’s new contract is valid until June 30, 2022.”

The 21-year-old, who already had a contract running till 2021, is expected to prove even more crucial to Ajax after the departure of Justin Kluivert to Roma this summer. 

David Neres began his career with Brazillian side Sao Paolo FC and later joined Dutch side Ajax during the winter break of the 2016/2017 season. On February 26, 2017, he made his first-team debut against Heracles in a game which his side won 4-1.

David Neres has been excellent for the Eredivisie club where he enjoyed a productive first full season, scoring 14 goals and providing 11 assists. The Brazillian winger has played over 56 matches for Ajax and scored 23 goals in all competitions.

On an international level, Neres has earned 9 caps for the Brazil u-20 team and is yet to make an appearance for the senior team. However, the 21-year-old forward is considered as one of the most promising players from the nation. 

One of the hottest prospects in European football, Neres has been linked with a host of prominent European clubs offering a big amount of money.

After signing the contract extension with the Eredivisie side, David Neres spoke to Ajax TV.

He said: “I am really happy. My hard work is seen. I think things are going well, but I can do better. I do not have to stop now and I can show you a lot more”

Ajax will face Groningen in their next Eredivisie fixture on Sunday, 16th September, after the international break.

El Ghazi – Aston Villa sign Dutch winger from Lille on loan

El Ghazi - Aston Villa sign Dutch winger from Lille on loan

Aston Villa have completed the signing of Netherlands international Anwar El Ghazi from Ligue 1 side Lille on a season-long loan.

A statement in the club’s official website read: “Aston Villa is delighted to announce the signing of Anwar El Ghazi from Lille on a season-long loan.” 

Anwar El Ghazi is a graduate of one of the renowned Ajax Academy for whom he made over 70 appearances including in the Champions League. The young Dutch forward advanced through the ranks at Ajax before joining Ligue 1 side Lille in January 2017. There, he started 19 Ligue 1 games in the previous season. Deemed as surplus by the French side, the winger now joins Championship side Aston Villa on a season-long loan. 

Internationally, El Ghazi has earned 2 caps for the Netherlands senior team.

Speaking on his move, El Ghazi said: “I am thrilled to join a football club of the size of Aston Villa. I visited Villa Park late last night after flying in from Holland and it gave me goosebumps. I can’t wait to get out there and experience it for real and play in front of such passionate fans.”

The 23-year-old took to Twitter to thank the fans of Lille and declare his excitement to play in front of the Aston Villa fans.

He said: “First of all, I would like to thank all of Lille’s fans for everything. You will forever remain in my heart and you never know what the future will bring. Right now I am really happy with this new challenge and I am looking forward to meeting all Aston Villa fans.”

The Claret and Blue are reportedly close to signing another winger on loan, Yannick Bolasie from Premier League side Everton.

Aston Villa face Reading in their next Championship fixture on Saturday, 25th August.

Ajax break club record to sign Daley Blind from Manchester United

Daley Blind

According to De Telegraaf, Daley Blind has left Manchester United to rejoin Ajax.

De Telegraaf journalist Mike Verweij reports that the Dutch defender has signed a four-year deal with Ajax and reported a fee around £14.2 million which could eventually rise up to £18.5 million. With the club scouting for more defensive reinforcements this summer, Daley Blind was aware that his first-team chances would only diminish further.

Daley Blind is a product of the renowned Ajax youth academy. He played for the senior side for four years ahead of his move to Premier League giants Manchester United in the summer of 2014. Blind became an instant regular under Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal. He made 141 appearances for Manchester United over all competitions, mainly due to his ability to play as a centre-back, left-back, or a defensive midfielder.

However, the Dutch star has been excluded from the first-team since the arrival of Jose Mourinho. And the utility player has remained displeased with his treatment. After making 35 appearances in the 2015/16 Premier League season, he earned 23 appearances in the 2016/17 season and then collapsed to just 7 appearances last campaign as the Red Devils achieved a distant 2nd position following Manchester City in the league table. Daley Blind saw just 360 minutes of Premier League action last season and was behind Ashley Young and Luke Shaw in the pecking order for his favoured left-back position.

Ajax have a reputation as a selling club, seeming to profit from its rich youth academy. Nevertheless, this summer the Dutch side have established themselves as contenders in the transfer market. Blind is set to become Ajax’s most expensive player ever and the club’s 4th signing after Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic along with Hassane Bande and Zakaria Labyad.

De Telegraaf further stated that Leicester star Harry Maguire has been expected to join United as his replacement.

AS Roma sign young superstar Justin Kluivert

Justin Kluivert

Justin Kluivert has signed for AS Roma from Ajax on Tuesday. The 19-year-old is the son of former Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert as he was spotted at the Rome Fiumicino airport on Monday evening. The Dutchman had been linked with Manchester United in recent times as per his intention to leave Ajax this summer but he was pictured in Rome on Monday night before the proposed move to the Italian team. He becomes Roma’s sixth signing of what is shaping up to be a busy transfer window this summer.

Kluivert made his first appearance for Ajax in January 2017 and has played 30 matches in the Eredivisie side this season finishing second in the table. The 19-year old scored 10 goals leading to his first senior cap for the Netherlands in March. He scored his first senior goal just two months after making his debut. After the Dutchman broke into the Ajax first-team in the 2016/17, he has scored 13 goals in 56 games.

Patrick Kluivert played at Ajax between 1994 and 1997, winning two Eredivisie titles and the Champions League. His son, Justin Kluivert, who came through the Ajax academy and has represented his country at various youth tournaments, is following in his father’s footsteps in moving to Italy. The teenager is all set to undergo a medical and complete his move to Roma, despite his father urging him to stay at Ajax for another campaign.

“I personally said to him maybe it’s better to stay one more year at Ajax, to make some kilometers to be important for the team,” Kluivert said. “He’s 19 years old. He’s still young but he makes his own decisions, and as a dad, I have to stand behind all the decisions that he makes. “It looks like he’s going to leave Ajax. I think it’s 90 percent sure that he’s going away. “If he’s got the feeling to leave then he’s got to do that, but he needs to know what things are coming on his way.”

Kluivert’s imminent departure from Ajax comes as no surprise. Speaking to Volkskrant last month, he accused the Dutch team of trying to sell him to Tottenham without him knowing due to which he refused to extend his contract. While he has moved to Roma this summer, Justin Kluivert has previously stated Barcelona to be his ‘dream team’, where his father, Patrick, played between 1998 and 2004.

The fee of the transfer is reported to be around £17.6 million, which seems pretty reasonable for one of the most high-profile youngsters in the world with a great talent.