Ajax are hoping to extend their 21-game unbeaten run in the Eredivisie as they take on VVV Venlo on Thursday.
It has been well over a week since Ajax secured their 35th Eredivisie title with a 4-0 win over FC Emmen, at the start of May. And while they may have nothing much to play for, the fans can look forward to their team’s final home league game in the Amsterdam ArenA as they welcome VVV Venlo on Thursday.
The biggest story regarding Ajax broke out this week when it was revealed that the club has decided to melt their 2020/21 Eredivisie title, converting it into 42,000 stars – as a gift to their season ticket holders. The gesture has captured widespread praise from the footballing world, as the record Dutch champions gear up for one of their last two matches of their league campaign this midweek.
VVV Venlo, in contrast, are facing a completely different situation, as they look to preserve their status as an Eredivisie club next season. They are currently second bottom in the league with just 23 points on the board.
However, despite just two games remaining until the season ends, Venlo do have an outside chance of securing safety, especially if they can cause an upset over the table toppers. The visitors, therefore, have everything to play, and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at their chances against Ajax, ahead of this David and Goliath encounter in the Eredivisie this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Piece of victory
Piece of history
Piece of Ajax
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) May 12, 2021
Following a dominating performance over rivals Feyenoord on the weekend, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag has an ideal opportunity to provide opportunities to some younger players, as the Dutchman looks to find the core of his squad for next season.
As such, the likes of Sean Klaiber and Perr Schuurs will be hoping to receive a starting opportunity in defence, with the latter partnering Lisandro Martinez at the heart of the four-man backline. Nicolas Tagliafico remains a guaranteed starter, despite speculations suggesting a move away from Amsterdam this summer.
In midfield, Ajax are without Edson Alvarez, as he had picked up two yellows in the win over Feyenoord. His absence should pave the way for Mohammed Kudus to start alongside Ryan Gravenberch and Davy Klaassen in the three-man midfield.
It suggests a rather attacking approach from Ajax, though coach ten Hag might want to ring in at least one charge going forward, with David Neres replacing Antony. Brian Brobbey, meanwhile, could make a substitute appearance, in what will be his last home game for Ajax, ahead of a summer switch to RB Leipzig.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Stekelenburg; Klaiber, Schuurs, Martinez, Tagliafico; Gravenberch, Klaassen, Kudus; Neres, Haller, Tadic
Venlo head coach is likely to persist with the 4-3-3 formation, which can mirror Ajax’s setup. It will be interesting to see how the visitors approach this game, knowing even a point could be welcome against the champions.
Yet, we do expect Jos Luhukay’s side to take risks with their attacking game, as his team searches for a win. The onus will be on top-scorer Georgios Giakoumakis, scorer of 25 goals this season, to spearhead the Venlo attack with additional support from the wide players in Vito van Crooij and Joshua John.
Luhukay is unlikely to make any changes in midfield either, as the double-pivot of Zinedine Machach and Simon Janssen hope to provide the creative essence upfront, just ahead of the main holding midfielder in Danny Post.
The veteran midfielder will play a key role in screening the Venlo backline comprising of Tobias Pachonik, Tristan Dekker, Kristopher Da Graca and Leon Guwara. All of them need to remain sharp up against the Ajax attack this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kirschbaum; Pachonik, Dekker, Graca, Guwara; Janssen, Post, Machach; Crooij, Giakoumakis, John
- Venlo suffered a humiliating 13-0 defeat in the reverse fixture – a game that saw Lassina Traore score five goals.
- Needless to say, the visitors have the worst defensive record in the league – having conceded 84 goals in just 32 matches.
- Ajax, in contrast, need four more goals to reach the 100-goal milestone in the Eredivisie season.
- Ajax are unbeaten since their 2-1 defeat to FC Twente in early December.
- Venlo, in contrast, have not won a single game since a 4-1 victory over Vitesse Arnhem in January.
Player to Watch
🇬🇭 Mohammed Kudus vs Feyernoord:
• 45 minutes
• 25 touches
• 18/19 passes completed
• 3 ground duels won
• 2 fouls won
• 1 dribble completed
• 1 shot on target
• 1 goal
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) May 9, 2021
Amid speculations suggesting the departure of players like Andre Onana, Nicolas Tagliafico and Ryan Gravenberch, one player who certainly has a future at Ajax is Mohammed Kudus.
The young playmaker is regarded as one of the most talented up and coming players in his native Ghana and is destined to become an asset for Ajax in the coming years. The youngster has already been involved in six goals for Ajax so far, most recently finding the back of the net in the win over Feyenoord.
Kudus, however, hasn’t enjoyed much game-time this season, having made only six starts so far. A positive end to the campaign, therefore, should go a long way in helping the 20-year-old earn a prominent role in ten Hag’s plans next season.
Ajax 5-0 VVV Venlo
VVV Venlo are among the weakest teams in Europe’s top seven leagues and it is miracle in itself to not see them at the rock bottom of the Eredivisie table. Nevertheless, they are likely in for yet another humiliation, as the majority of these Ajax players will be keen on seeking a positive end to the campaign – either to seal a move away from Amsterdam or gain some confidence ahead of the new one.