The summer of Ajax has been nothing short of disastrous. A large dose of optimism following last year’s successful season has been undone with the departure of Peter Bosz and numerous players, as well as the tragic situation surrounding Nouri.
To make matters even worse, the Amsterdammers were eliminated from the Champions League qualifiers, lost their first Eredivisie game and were dealt a blow by Rosenborg, losing 0-1 at home in the first leg of Europa League play-offs.
Will the players be able to turn the tide on Sunday when they face Groningen in the Johan Cruijff ArenA? Here are the predictions from some of the most devoted Ajax followers on the world wide web.
Menno Pot – Writer and journalist
It may be hard to believe in these times of disaster, but Ajax will (at some point) start winning matches again. The question is: will it be this weekend, at home against FC Groningen? I think it will. 2-1 Ajax. That’s the good news. It will be hard-fought, they will struggle, they will concede a goal, but eventually they will pocket Marcel Keizer’s first win as Ajax boss. Relief!
As for the bad news: it will not mark the end of the current crisis. That will take some more time. I won’t even discuss the line-up. That would be beside the point. Younes, Kluivert or Neres on the wings? Dolberg or Huntelaar upfront? Schöne in or out? Details. Almost everybody is underperforming right now. The team doesn’t gel and looks a bit miserable.
Ajax are psychologically vulnerable right now. Picking up form will take time, it will require a bit of luck in one or two games and I’m afraid it will cost a few more points. But not this weekend.
Floris Roos – AjaxLife blogger
Ajax couldn’t have a worse start, eh?
I’m not going to give a complete analysis of all causes here. Others are doing that right now. And quite often, they’re much better at it than I am. As a fan, I’m really bummed out by the otherworldly frustrations that are back again. After the tragic events regarding Abdelhak Nouri, we found each other for strength and football was at the backburner. We shouldn’t be too strict on the boys then. That was the mood amongst most of us.
And that’s all fine and dandy, but you also have to realize that after some losses that feeling disappears like dust in the wind. Now, everything’s gone sour already.
Once again, we’re experiencing a false start in Amsterdam. Most feel this wasn’t at all necessary. We weren’t consistently horrible in all the games. You have to be lucky as well. I do believe in turning things around, however this might be too late to save European football and I’m afraid we’ll suffer a lethal deficit in the Eredivisie. That realization hurts. Just like the enormous frustrations surrounding the club, as much as I understand it.
Bursaspor’un gündeminde olan ve Rosenborg’a transfer olan Samuel Adegbenro’nun ilk maçında deplasmanda Ajax’a attığı gol pic.twitter.com/1vRt4qgu7o
— Scandinavia Football (@Nordic_Footy) 17 augustus 2017
Solely because of that, Ajax has to win against Groningen. Preferably with a big margin. If they’re able to pull that off, as well as surprise in Trondheim, then I’ll give it another go. Especially if we really manage to strengthen the squad. It’s really needed right now, because if we suffer two bad results in a row we could already we done for the season.
Lastly: I didn’t want to jump on the hype-train right away with Frenkie de Jong, but I strongly feel he should get a starting spot against Groningen. Lasse Schöne is really not doing well in the last few games, whilst he’s in a position where you can expect him to be the difference-maker.
Priya Ramesh – Writer and journalist
Groningen are never a team to underestimate, and in the form Ajax are in, it’s best not to underestimate any opponent at all. They lost Linssen but have managed to hold on to Mahi (so far) and Veldwijk is a great signing, who is the type who can exploit some of the deficiencies we’ve seen with the Ajax defence. I think the Sanchez saga has left a bit of a weird taste in the mouth with the way it’s transpired but at least it’s over now.
From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics, get the full story with all the live commentary.
Morale doesn’t seem great, as Ziyech’s post-Rosenborg comments suggested and a win would be priceless for the squad at the moment. Keizer himself acknowledged how in terms of expected goals, Ajax have actually done well and have been painfully unlucky with the conversion of their chances. One would hope this is where the fortunes change for the better. I think it’ll be 2-2 realistically, but 2-1 is what I’d wish for, given Ajax desperately need a win. As always, thoughts and prayers with Appie Nouri and family.
Arco Gnocchi – Ajax follower
Let’s see if I have any tears left for another disappointment: I don’t expect anything else with regards to the last 3 devestating results, simply because I don’t believe anything has changed within the club. Groningen is not the kind of club to help us get up after we’ve fallen. They’ll be looking to push us even deeper in the mud, which is where you will find us by tomorrow night. 1-3 final result.
Sjimmie – Ajax follower
That wasn’t the start I was hoping for, but no need to panic. Although our squad is still not on full strength, I am holding on to three things.
- We’ve beaten FC Groningen in each of the last 9 times we faced them in Amsterdam
- According to xG (Expected Goals) measurements (shout-out to @11tegen11), we were a bit unlucky in our last three games. (Disclaimer: small sample size).
- It cannot get any worse, can it?
Time is ticking and yet no notable reinforcements have arrived yet, despite Ziyech, Viergever and captain Veltman almost begging for new players. Davinson Sanchez has left for Tottenham Hotspur, so it’s time to close that chapter.
In my ideal world Frenkie de Jong would start in the game against Groningen but I still think Keizer will put his faith in Schöne, which I can understand from his point of view. The Dane brings a lot of experience to the team, and Keizer is undoubtedly looking for players who can step it up during these hard times. But I believe Schöne will disappoint again.
Looking back at the game against Rosenborg I disliked the amount of crosses we put into the box, so I really hope we’ll employ a different strategy against Groningen. I also hope we’ll start with Kluivert and Neres, but at the same time Younes deserves credit for his good showing against Rosenborg. Keizer is likely to stick with him up front, too.
— ajaxmuseum.NL (@ajaxmuseumNL) 17 augustus 2017
Key factor in this game is to convert the chances early on, as it might give the team some much-needed confidence. I was happy to hear Keizer admit the team had been a bit unlucky taking into account Expected Goals, also stating Dolberg didn’t get a whole lot of balls to work with. That means he knows the situation isn’t as bad as it looks. Either way, the game against Groningen is a must-win for the newly appointed manager, else a large portion of the fans will demand his head on a chopping block.
I am also looking forward to watching a player of the opposition; Japan’s upcoming man Ritsu Doan. I don’t know if he’ll start, but he does look very promising to me. In the end I don’t think Groningen can put enough of a fight to deserve or steal a point from Amsterdam. My prediction: 2-0. Ajax will once again miss plenty of chances, but will prevail in the end. #StayStrongAppie
Yaya – Ajax follower
Under normal circumstances I’d say the home game against Groningen should be an easy win for Ajax, but at the moment it’s hard for the Amsterdammers to win their matches. The football itself isn’t horrible, but not great either. Looking at the chances we got in our last match against Rosenborg we deserved to get a win, but once again we lost points because the opposition scored from a counter-attack after a defensive error.
Groningen will play defensively and attack with long balls to Veldwijk. Ajax will have to be very careful of the counter-attack, and also for Mahi. He’s started this season as a striker and already scored two goals against Heerenveen in a very open game.
— Dutch Goals And More (@DutchGoalsAMore) 13 augustus 2017
And that’s where Ajax can hurt Groningen. They are very weak in defense and will have a hard time preventing the Ajacieden from creating big chances. Hopefully this time Ajax will be able to convert them to win the first game of the season.
In short I think it’ll be a tough match considering the current state of Ajax, but we should be able to get the win. I predict a 2-1 win with goals from Younes and Schöne.
Bart Sanders – Ajax follower
Home against Groningen should be the perfect game to recover from the terrible week we had. De Jong and Neres should start (again) instead of Schöne and Younes. Kluivert on the left wing.