Dutch champions AFC Ajax will be aiming to end their campaign on a winning note when they face Vitesse Arnhem at the GelreDome on Sunday afternoon.
Having sealed their 35th Eredivisie title earlier this month, reigning Dutch champions AFC Ajax will be aiming to close out the campaign with a bang when they face off against Vitesse Arnhem at the GelreDome this weekend.
It has been another memorable campaign for Erik ten Hag & co. as they have been relentless in the Dutch top-flight, accumulating 85 points from their 33 games, while scoring as many as 99 goals in the competition. De Godenzonen haven’t lost a league game since December last year and have won each of their last four, including a 3-1 win over VVV Venlo in their most recent fixture. They will be aiming to extend that run on Sunday.
Vitesse, meanwhile, have enjoyed a decent campaign as well and are set for a fourth-place finish, which means they will be part of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League in the next season. However, Thomas Letsch’s side have been quite inconsistent of late, having won just one of their last six games in all competitions, with their latest fixture ending in a 3-3 draw against Fortuna Sittard.
The reverse fixture in the Eredivisie saw Ajax emerge 2-1 winners over Vitesse while they also prevailed over their Sunday’s hosts in the KNVB Cup final last month by the same scoreline. Ahead of their latest meeting in the final game of the 2020/21 Eredivisie season, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🔜 De laatste wedstrijd wacht
🗣 “We gaan er alles aan doen om het seizoen op een goede manier af te sluiten”
— Vitesse (@MijnVitesse) May 14, 2021
Vitesse have just one player absent for the clash against the champions with midfielder Patrick Vroegh missing out due to a hamstring injury. Apart from that, manager Thomas Letsch has a full squad to pick from as he eyes to bounce back to winning ways and end the campaign on a positive note.
Vitesse are expected to line up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Remko Pasveer. Danilho Doekhi, Riechedly Bazoer and Jacob Rasmussen ought to be the three central defenders guarding the goal against the Ajax attackers with further support coming from the two wing-backs in Eli Dasa and Maximilian Wittek, with the duo dropping deep to essentially form a five-man backline when the visitors have the ball.
At the same time, the wing-backs will also have the onus of providing width going forward when Vitesse push on the break. Matus Bero and Sondre Tronstad ought to sit deep in the middle of the park and look to shield the defence while Oussama Tannane, who has seven goals and nine assists in the league this term, will have more of a license to push forward and support the attackers.
Up top, leading goalscorer Armando Broja should get the nod alongside Lois Openda, who scored after coming on from the bench against Fortuna Sittard last time out. Oussama Darfalou is another option at the manager’s disposal.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Pasveeer; Doekhi, Bazoer, Rasmussen; Dasa, Tannane, Bero, Tronstad, Wittek; Broja, Openda
Senior defender Daley Blind remains sidelined with an ankle issue while midfielder Edson Alvarez also misses out due to suspension, along with Andre Onana. Ajax manager Erik ten Hag might once again look at this game to give opportunities to players that haven’t featured regularly over the course of the season, although he will be wary of making too many changes as he seeks to finish the season with a victory.
Only fun allowed! 😊
████████████] 99% done. #vitaja
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) May 15, 2021
No personnel changes are expected at the back, with veteran goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg lining up in goal, shielded by the centre-back partnership of Perr Schuurs and Lisandro Martinez, who has been linked with a move to Barcelona. Jurrien Timber ought to feature at right-back yet again while Devyne Rensch, who scored last time out, should get the nod on the left side once more.
Mohammed Kudus, who scored a goal against VVV Venlo, ought to continue in the middle of the park for the champions but will have a new partner in Ryan Gravenberch on Sunday afternoon. Davy Klaassen will occupy the No. 10 role from where he will look to provide a direct goal threat and create chances for his fellow attacking partners as well.
Captain Dusan Tadic ought to return to the side after being benched last time out. The former Southampton man should slot it on the left and shoulder the creative burden while David Neres will pose a threat from the right flank with his directness and pace. Sebastien Haller, who has scored ten times in the league since arriving in January, will be the man to spearhead the Ajax attack against Vitesse.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg; Timber, Schuurs, Martinez, Rensch; Kudus, Gravenberch; Neres, Klaassen, Tadic; Haller
- Ajax have won five of their last six fixtures against Vitesse Arnhem across all competitions.
- Vitesse have won just two of their last eight games across all competitions (D4 L2). They have failed to pick up a win in each of their last two matches.
- Ajax boast the best goalscoring as well as the best defensive record in Eredivisie this term, having netted 99 goals while conceding just 22 (+77 goal difference).
- With ten goals from 29 games, Chelsea loanee Armando Broja is the leading goalscorer for Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivise this season.
- Ajax have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven games against Vitesse in all competitions.
Player to Watch
Dusan Tadic is a big fan of Ryan Gravenberch, "He is no longer a talent, but a top player." (Ajax TV) pic.twitter.com/itoFiFBgXZ
— Dutch Football (@FootballOranje_) May 11, 2021
Having become a full-fledged first-team member at Ajax this season, the 18-year-old midfield prodigy has enjoyed a season to remember. A regular in the middle of the park for Erik ten Hag’s side, Gravenberch has accumulated 46 appearances across all competitions, managing to chip with a handy contribution of five goals and six assists.
Gravenberch’s performances in the Eredivisie this term has caught the attention of European bigwigs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona. It remains to be seen if any of the clubs do swoop for the teenager come summer and in case they do, this could turn out to be the midfielder’s final game for Ajax and he will be aiming to make it a memorable one by putting in a starring display.
Vitesse 1-3 Ajax
Ajax, as iterated earlier, have been relentless in the domestic competitions this season. Vitesse, meanwhile, have nothing left to play for on the final day of the season, having secured a top four finish and a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League for the next term. The hosts’ defence has been all over the place of late, and Ajax could be in for another big win on Sunday, to round off their successful season in style.