Ajax are hoping to move one step closer towards sealing the Eredivisie title as they lock horns with RKC Waalwijk on Sunday.
The Eredivisie league title hasn’t had much depth to it like last season as Ajax Amsterdam are almost running away with the title, having secured 69 points from their 27 matches.
It puts them eight points ahead of second-placed AZ Alkmaar with the league leaders even having two games in hand.
With just seven games remaining until the end of the campaign, Ajax will be hoping to extend their lead at the top as they travel Mandemakers Stadion to face RKC Waalwijk, who, in contrast, are pretty much involved in a relegation dogfight as we head towards to the final stretch of the campaign.
Indeed, the hosts are currently 14th in the league table with 26 points on the board. They are leading relegation-threatened Willem II by four points but they haven’t had much luck in terms of their performances. Knowing a win could be enough to change the complexion of the table, they will be desperate to get a positive result from this fixture.
The two sides last met back in September 2020, in the reverse fixture, with Ajax sealing a comfortable 3-0 victory. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial fixture in the Eredivisie this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
As they continue to stumble at the wrong end of the league table, RKC Waalwijk simply have nothing to lose, but they will also have to take up a cautious approach in an attempt to avoid any humiliation.
As such, we are expecting manager Fred Grim to employ a deep defensive line, concentrated around the idea of frustrating the Ajax attack. The central defensive duo of Melle Meulensteen and Ahmed Touba could play a vital role in that regard, with additional support from full-backs in Paul Quasten and Said Bakari.
The midfield will presumably look to operate closely with the defenders, hoping to add some additional resistance during defensive phases. It could also be key in initiating those counter-attacking opportunities by creating turnovers in key areas.
That is where runners like Lennerd Daneels and Ola John could play an integral role, using their pace to capitalise on long balls in behind the backline. The attack, though, will be led by Thijs Oosting.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lamprou; Bakari, Meulensteen, Touba, Quasten; van der Venne, Anita, Tahiri; Daneels, Oosting, John
Ajax boss Erik ten Haag will have to make some key decisions in regards to his team selection, as the Dutchman will surely have one eye on the important Europa League fixture against AS Roma in midweek.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) April 10, 2021
One could thus expect ten Hag to rest a few of his key players, although due to the injury of Noussair Mazraoui, youngster Deyvne Rensch could continue to deputise for him at right-back while Nicolas Tagliafico is also the only viable option available on the opposite flank, especially with Daley Blind also out.
Ajax, though, are unlikely to face too much of a challenge going forward. Hence, we can expect the full-backs to mostly camp themselves in the opposition half, as they look to offer supply for star striker Sebastien Haller.
The former Frankfurt forward will expect additional support from Antony and Dusan Tadic while David Neres could be given a breather. The same can be said for the ever-present figure of Ryan Gravenberch – a transfer target for Barcelona, who could make way for Mohammed Kudus, in the hybrid number eight role alongside Davy Klaassen.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Scherpen; Rensch, Timber, Martinez, Tagliafico; Kudus, Alvarez, Klaassen; Antony, Haller, Tadic
- Ajax have been the best all-round team in the Eredivisie this season – having the best scoring record (85), defensive record (20) and points tally (69) than any other team even with two games to spare.
- The midweek defeat to AS Roma in the Europa League ended a run of seven successive wins in all competitions for Ajax.
- Only bottom club ADO Den Haag have a worse scoring record (22) than RKC Waalwijk this season, who have netted only 27 goals thus far.
- Ajax are yet to suffer a defeat in the league in 2021, with their most recent loss coming back in early December 2020 – a 2-1 result against Twente.
- Ajax are undefeated in their last 29 matches against RKC Waalwijk in all competitions.
Player to Watch
Sebastien Haller at Ajax
— Goal South Africa (@GoalcomSA) April 5, 2021
Sebastien Haller being unavailable for the UEFA Europa League makes him almost a guaranteed starter for Ajax, in this crucial Eredivisie fixture against RKC Waalwijk this weekend.
The former Eintracht Frankfurt forward has not been able to come out all guns blazing in the Netherlands, following his initial loan move from West Ham. However, he is slowly starting to make himself a key component in the Ajax attack and his imposing presence inside the box could once again pose problems for the vulnerable Waalwijk backline this weekend.
RKC Waalwijk 0-3 Ajax
Despite the expected changes in the starting eleven, this should be an easy game for Ajax as they look to continue their excellent run of form in the Eredivisie. The Dutch giants simply have too much quality in their ranks while their opponents have not been able to create any momentum, of late. We can thus expect a comfortable victory for the away side.