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Ajax against Tottenham Hotspurs and The Beautiful Football

We have witnessed Ajax beat Tottenham Hotspurs in London in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. The way Ajax have set up for this whole season has been a constant reminder of Ajax’s long history with ‘Total Football’.

AG
Last updated: 02.05.2019
Ajax against Tottenham Hotspurs and The Beautiful Football | Sports Social Blog

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Just hours ago, we have witnessed Ajax beat Tottenham Hotspurs in London in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. At the start of the game, it looked like Ajax might demolish Spurs if they don’t change their tactics. Fortunately for Spurs, they caught on quick and got their feet back at the game before the half-time break. The way Ajax have set up for this whole season has been a constant reminder of Ajax’s long history with ‘Total Football’.


Their exquisite gameplay may remind football lovers all over the world might remind them of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even Ajax of their respective glory days. Their possession game, high-pressing football and enormous quick-passing accuracy are an homage to the beautiful game.


Manager and the Board Believe in the Philosophy

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Ajax inherited a rich history of footballing greats who shaped the idea and philosophy of how the club should function. Johann Cruyff was one of the three pillars on which the philosophy of how Ajax is run and their brand of football still stand till day. In the modern day, Ajax has appointed footballing greats in their board. Personalities like Van Der Sar, Schoenaker, Vervoon hold director-level posts which only indicates the path Ajax are following and the reverence they have for the ways of the greats.


Erik Ten Hag was appointed on December 2017 and have been carrying that torch on successfully. Between 2013 and 2015, Ten Hag managed the reserve side of Bayern Munich, when Pep Guardiola was at the helm of Bayern first team. Pep has been a well-known Cruyff devotee from the beginning of his career and Ten Hag had a great relationship with Pep. Later on, Ten Hag managed Utrecht to guide them to a better performing team under a very limited budget, while playing the way he liked and learned football. When Ten Hag was appointed at Ajax, it was clear that they were going the Cruyff way.


Ajax Setup against Tottenham


Ten Hag set his team up in a usual 4-2-3-1 formation where his only concern was the defence, where he trusted Veltman at centre-back position. Like most of their season, they relied on Frankie de Jong and de Ligt to play out from the back. They had Ziyech and Neres going wide with a lot of freedom and Dusan Tadic spearheaded the attack. De Jong played his versatile role, as a false central defender to play out from the back and went forward with the ball to look up and find a man for a decisive pass. Tottenham, for the first 40 odd minutes were looking to play out from the back and faced a very high press from the Ajax attackers. This made life difficult for Tottenham and they were forced to commit some errors. Their fast-paced passing and exquisite sense of positioning were show-cased during the first and only goal, where Van Der Beek found a lot of open space in front of the goal and scored against a helpless Hugo Lloris.


Tottenham Took Control


Tottenham realised their mistake in the game-plan soon enough and stopped giving the playmaker de Jong time and space to weave his magic. After an unfortunate injury to Vertonghen forced them to bring on Sissoko, the complexion of the game started changing. Sissoko’s pace started becoming troublesome for Ajax. They started putting together wonderfully constructed counter-attacks but unfortunately Spurs could not capitalise, while they felt the absence of players like Kane with the finishing end and Son at the midfield.


Final Thoughts


The first leg provided an all-important 1-0 away lead to Ajax, with a very precious away goal. With Son certainly returning for the next leg and Ajax being at home, a cracking game awaits is the football fans. Tottenham are still very much in the tie and only time will tell us which one of these teams will make it to the final against all the odds for them.

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