Seven days after that painful 0-1 loss to Rosenborg in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Ajax are set to face the Norwegians for the second leg of their Europa League playoff encounter. Has the win against Groningen given the boys enough confidence to perform and reach the group stages, or will the Amsterdammers miss out on European football for the first time since 1966? Check out the predictions below.
Yaya – Ajax follower
Finally! Ajax got their first win of the season in the home match against FC Groningen. The Amsterdammers were playing very well from the start, resulting in a 3-1 win. This should give the team a boost in confidence for the Europa League return against Rosenborg.
Keizer made a few changes to his starting line-up last Sunday, and they weren’t all that bad. I do expect Schone and Dolberg to return to the XI, and a fit Younes is likely to start as well. Maybe Keizer will give Kluivert some rest again, following an unconvincing performance against Groningen.
I truly hope Ajax win this important game. A season without European football is a lost season. The match itself will probably look a lot like the first leg – even with Rosenborg playing at home, they won’t be too eager to have possession of the ball.
It’ll be interesting to see if Ajax will spam crosses into the box again, like they did at home. Keizer claims it’s because of Rosenborg’s tactics. If they do that, it might be wise to start with Cerny instead of Younes.
I expect Ajax to win 1-2 against Rosenborg and advance to the Europa League group stages on away goals. Dolberg needs to step his game up, and I think he will do that against the Norwegians.
Menno Pot – Writer and journalist
After the home leg against Rosenborg I felt like Ajax’s European ambitions were dead and buried. No Champions League. No Europa League. Bollocks. This was, of course, nonsense. All we need is a win in Norway. Any win will see Ajax through directly, except for 0-1, which means extra time.
So, the crucial question then: will Ajax pull it off. I say yes. I think last weekend’s win over FC Groningen meant a lot, psychologically. I think the fact that the goals were ace meant a lot and I think they meant a lot to their scorers: Ziyech (who’s had a bumpy start of the season), Schöne (who was written off once again by some) and Huntelaar (who was waiting for his chance… and grabbed it). These are three key figures in the squad and in the changing room. If they get the spirit, the team gets the spirit.
? What a fantastic goal from Schöne! #ajagro pic.twitter.com/RYLKLJe5Ky
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) 20 augustus 2017
As for the line-up: they say one should never change a winning team, but something tells me it is in fact a better idea to change the team. Younes is back. Let’s have him instead of Cerny. Let’s have Dolberg instead of Huntelaar. See how he reacts to Klaas-Jan’s goal. Let’s have Schöne instead of De Jong. And then, let’s beat Rosenborg: 1-3.
Arco Gnocchi – Ajax follower
All this commotion surrounding the team at the moment, yet again…The key players demanding or at least expecting quality signings, combined with Dolberg’s possible exit will not be beneficial to our chances of progressing to the group stage.
? Ajax have rejected a formal offer worth more than €50 million from AS Monaco for Kasper Dolberg. #ajax [@telegraaf] pic.twitter.com/65B4wlMF96
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) 23 augustus 2017
Rosenborg will be way more motivated and ruthless than Groningen managed to be last Sunday. My fellow twitter-Ajacied Sjimmie is less impressed by the Norwegians and sees chances for our Ajax that I myself fail to see in the faintest of distances.
Who to play up front? I don’t think Dolberg was the biggest part of the problem, but the supply of usable passes was. Although Huntelaar did seem way more eager last Sunday than Kasper. Tough call for Keizer, this is really a moment for him to show he’s a shrewd and talented coach.
All things considered I don’t see us make up for the abysmal showing of last week, with a 1-1 final result. Although, somehow, somewhere, I have a glimmer of hope for some Lucky Ajax shenanigans in injury time.
Priya Ramesh – Writer and journalist
So, that much-awaited, much-needed win was finally found against FC Groningen, but it still wasn’t the most convincing of performances. The only thing I could conclude was that crosses are generally bad, unless Hakim Ziyech is the one delivering them. Once again, I think a lot will fall on his shoulders to carry this Ajax side through.
Frenkie de Jong out in a decent shift during the weekend, although not his impressive but either way I won’t be surprised to see Schöne back in the XI. If Van de Beek looks to continue his European goal scoring form, it might bode well for Ajax.
The choice up top is a lot more interesting. I think/hope Keizer goes with Dolberg because he offers so much more than Huntelaar, even as much as I personally love Huntelaar. Dolberg has better mobility, and is much more dynamic, which is crucial in a European away tie.
Speaking of which, I hope this is not Ajax’s last this season. It would be a hilarious situation if the finalists from last year couldn’t even qualify for the tournament this year. Naturally, there are many factors that we can discuss in detail that this can be attributed to, but it remains so painfully ridiculous that finding hilarity in it seems the best way of coping. I hope Ajax can pull off a tight 2-1 win.
As always, thoughts and prayers with Appie Nouri and family.
Yordi Yamali – FC Afkicken host
Well, we finally had our first win of the season. And we achieved that without Sanchez and Dolberg, so maybe we should just wait and trust Overmars and his transfer policy. I love being surprised by his imagination, and he surely didn’t disappoint this morning: Siem de Jong! A fine example of yet another technical heart masterpiece.
? Ajax are in advanced talks with Siem de Jong and hope to complete the former captain’s return within the next 48 hours. #ajax [@telegraaf] pic.twitter.com/HakdlcyH9V
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) 23 augustus 2017
All jokes aside people, I think our European adventure will end before it even really started and everybody at Ajax is to blame. Before the first game against OGC Nice I stated that we needed to be patient and give Keizer a fair amount of time before judging him as our new head coach. Therefor I won’t blame him for the horrific start this season, but I do want to share some thoughts on the first couple of weeks.
I have my doubts about the reasons why Ajax decided to appoint Keizer. He supposedly shares the same vision as Bosz and got to see him work his magic up close and personal, but I am getting the feeling they are miles apart in actual capabilities. Peter Bosz set the bar very high for an inexperienced manager like Keizer. He’s likely doing everything he can and knows, but I think he hasn’t been able to trigger the players. It’s like going to college and getting send back to high school after a year; it’s too basic.
But can we blame all this on Overmars and co? Absolutely, if you ask me. We haven’t seen too much of Keizer, but based on his season as manager of Jong Ajax you can conclude that he’ll let his team play entertaining football when given the strongest squad in the league – but he didn’t win that league. Knowing Klaassen was set to leave and Traoré wouldn’t be returning, alarm bells should have gone off. Without those two players, Ajax no longer had the strongest squad in the Eredivisie.
But instead of composing a strong squad they are making it weaker every single day, and this will likely continue until the 1st of September. And because I don’t see Keizer getting the most out of his players, let alone improving them, it’s only a matter of time until he gets fired. It might take a while, but when it happens I hope you all will know who’s really to blame.
Prove me wrong, Marcel! Because I really do like you. Prediction: 1-1.
Floris Roos – AjaxLife writer
A tough challenge awaits in Trondheim. Rosenborg BK have given themselves a strong position by beating Ajax 0-1 in the Johan Cruijff ArenA last week. The Norwegians played as expected. The team was happy to hand the initiative to the Amsterdammers, eagerly awaiting to hit them on the counter-attack. And that’s exactly what happened. While the Norwegians usually employ an attacking game they are likely to utilize the same strategy tomorrow, with Ajax in need of a goal.
And to achieve that they’ll have to do better than last week. The first half was alright but the team caved in during the second, with despair written all over their showing. It was harrowing to see and while it doesn’t directly boost confidence for the return, an in-form Ajax should be able to grab the win.
Besides; any win is enough to at least reach extra time. It’s not as bad as we’re making it out to be when you look at it like that. But if Ajax has hopes of playing European football this season, they’ll have to do better than last week.