Ajax shake up Schalke in the ArenA

Impressed? You should be. Ajax absolutely outclassed German opponent Schalke 04 (2-0) in their Europa League quarterfinal clash. Keeping that all important clean sheet will prove important when Ajax visit the Veltins-Arena on the 20th of April.

Right from the start the Amsterdammers set out to control the game, and they did just that. Klaassen and Van De Beek controlled the midfield, leaving Schalke with a blunted attack that was easily dealt with. Ziyech in his attacking role was able to provide the crucial link with the attack which allowed for it to flourish. According to Opta, the Moroccan created 5 chances and gained possession more often than any other player in the game, an impressive display. Younes exploited the flank with a total of four dribbles in the first half, almost making you feel sorry for his inexperienced direct opponent Thilo Kehrer. The German winger was simply too much to handle and now has 59 completed dribbles in the Europa League, by far the most out of any player. The wizardry of Younes only helped the attack further, whilst Traoré also kept the opposition defenders on their toes. One minute he’s in one place, the next he’s on the other side of the pitch. The link up play between Traoré and Younes was a pleasure to watch.

At the age of 17 Justin Kluivert continues to show glimpses of what he can do. Against a much more experienced opposition he was able to hold his own, topping it off with a crazy nutmeg at the end of the first half. Ajax scored their first goal in the first half thanks to a penalty in the 23rd minute converted by the captain. Ajax had 7 total shots, with 2 on target and a total of 59% in the first half. Coming into the second half, Ajax continued from where they left off. Yet again they applied pressure and intensity which paid off with another goal from Klaassen in the 52nd minute. A perfect cross from Kluivert gave our captain the easy job of finishing.

Despite the impressive performance from Ajax, fans were left with the feeling that more goals should have been scored. Plenty of opportunities presented themselves but unfortunately we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal. Credit also has to be given to the defense. Veltman, Sánchez, Viergever, Sinkgraven (1st half) and De Ligt (2nd half) kept Schalke quiet. Schalke only had 1 shot on target in the first half, and left the game with 2. The defense was a fort that Schalke couldn’t dismantle.

Statistics coming out of the game prove Ajax outclassed Schalke in pretty much every area. The 13 shots on target is the highest in any Europa League game since 2015, and we’re now unbeaten in the last 12 home games in European competitions. That can only put a smile on your face. To top it off, the average age of the Ajax team who put together such a dominating performance was only 22 years and 199 days. It was the 1,650th consecutive match Ajax had at least one academy graduate in the starting line-up. The future is bright at Ajax.

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