Statistics: PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Ajax

Disappointment and frustration. Ajax left Eindhoven this weekend with a loss that puts title hopes in jeopardy.

Make no mistake about it; the game against PSV was absolutely crucial. Should the Amsterdammers have won, they would have kept the pressure on league leaders Feyenoord with hopes of them droppings points in at least one of their two remaining Eredivisie matches. But it wasn’t meant to be. Ajax had played 6 games in the space of 18 days before traveling to Eindhoven, and it showed. It was apparent players were tired and hadn’t fully recovered from the exhausting 120-minute Europa League battle against Schalke earlier during the week. But despite this being the case, Peter Bosz admits himself that this isn’t a good enough excuse for the performance.

Let’s take a look at statistics and overall analysis of the game. Straight from the get go it felt like the scene was set. In the first ten minutes of the game, Eindhoven had 54.8% possession, 2 dribbles and 3 shots. For comparison, Ajax 0 dribbles and 1 shot. PSV set out to control the centre of the pitch via Guardado and Pröpper – who had 136 touches between them – and overwhelmed the tired Ajax midfield. As a result, their forwards received a lot of support which gave them an improved chance of scoring. Touches and heat maps show the situation that unfolded and ultimately carried through the game.

Leading up to the set piece that put PSV ahead in the 24th minute, the situation seemed to get worse, especially in terms of possession. Statistics from the game show that in 24 minutes, Eindhoven had 64.2% possession, 2 dribbles and 5 shots. They increased their stats in all areas of the game apart from dribbles, and their influence was unfolding. It is worth pointing out that the eventual goal scorer, Jurgen Locadia, had 4 of Eindhoven’s shots in this period of time.

Then the dagger came. In the 24th minute, the previously mentioned Locadia scored an impressive long-range free kick. Onana didn’t stand a chance.

This stat from Opta tells it all; this was a task that simply couldn’t be completed. The second half didn’t provide too much hope either. Despite the Amsterdammers increasing their number of shots, a majority of them were from outside the box. PSV weren’t allowing Ajax to add intensity and pressure to the game which has made them so deadly in previous fixtures. Their defense was able to limit the creativity provided on the wings and up the middle, resulting in just one out of 13 shots coming from the opposition penalty area. Adding to this, only 2 of the 13 shots were on target. Ajax had blunted weapons that couldn’t deal enough damage, ending the game with 53% possession, 13 dribbles, 13 shots and 75% pass success. The positions and passing network provided by 11tegen11 show the disappointing performance.

If you want a perfect summary of the game, then I highly suggest watching this:

With title hopes most likely over, it’s easy to get lost in a mixture of frustration and anger. But there are plenty of positives coming out of the season so far. Peter Bosz has given Ajax it’s identity back, playing recognizable attacking and free flowing football in the spirit of the late, great Johan Cruijff. Is it time to win the Europa League? I think so.