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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eredivisie - AZ vs Ajax / Meaningful Draw for Ajax

In the first Eredivisie match after the winter break on January 22, Ajax met AZ Alkmaar, the same opponent as they met in the KNVB match on January 19.

While AZ did not change the starting players from the last match, Ajax coach De Boer made a few revisions to the stating line-up. Right back Ligeon was replaced by left back Blind (Anita played the right back), and left wing Aissati was replaced by Ebecilio. Vermeer came back to the starting line-up as the goalkeeper.

Here's the starting line-ups.

Ajax took the initiative in the beginning of the match. Blind, Ebecilio and Sulejmani especially did good work, and in the 8th minute, Sulejmani put the goal behind the AZ goalkeeper after a nice flick from Eriksen. However, he was offside and the goal was disallowed. AZ gradually began to dominate the midfield and after Vertonghen's faul just outside the penalty area, Rasmus Elm's superb free kick brought the home side a meaningful goal in the 36th minute.

AZ dominated the second half, with tight pressing in the midfield. AZ attackers and midfielders were, as always, very hardworking and contributed to the defense very much. Ajax had no way to resolve this situation, not able to take ball possession. The well-trained, speedy and effective counter attacks of AZ confused Ajax, and just like their last match against the same team, Ajax midfielders were not able to build attacks effectively.

However, situations changed after Lodeiro appeared on the pitch as a substitute. His excellent technique and creative passes saved the team; his good combination with Sulejmani led to an own goal by Simon Paulsen.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Generally speaking, the game was dominated by AZ. But Ajax prevented from AZ from taking three points, and this was a meaningful draw for Ajax considering that many players who should have been on the starting line-up are currently injured. AZ remains on the top of the Eredivisie standings with 39 points. PSV sits second with one point behind, followed by Twente with 36 points. Ajax, with 34 points, sits after Twente.

Lodeiro played excellently. He did great work at the central forward when Siem de Jong was injured. It has been proved that he is the one who can make a big difference to the team. Blind and Ebecilio, who were not on the starting line-up in the lost KNVB match against AZ, did good work, too. But Enoh and Janssen were not able to play effectively, and Eriksen and Siem de Jong sometimes almost disappeared from the game. Ajax have good young players with high potential, but I must admit that, at the present stage, they will not be able to play easily in higher-ranked leagues like the Premier League and Serie A, where pressure is tighter than in the Eredivisie.

They will fight the national classic match against Feyenoord on January 29.

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