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The Return of the Eredivisie- Sparta Rotterdam vs Ajax



10 man Ajax Scrape Past Sparta in Rotterdam


The 27th minute red card given to left-back Nico Tagliafico left Ajax to fight a hard fought battle as they earned the 3 points in a 1-0 win on the opening day of the season.

The 10-men of Ajax demonstrated a strong defensive performance that left Sparta with very little attacking opportunities throughout the remainder of the game.

An interesting battle on the pitch today was the battle of the brothers as the Gravenberches faced off. Ajax’s Ryan started alongside Edson Alvarez in midfield whilst Sparta’s Danzell came off the bench for the second half.

Ajax can be excited as a result of today’s showing from the 20 year-old Brazilian winger Antony who brought his trickery and flair out, causing the Sparta defense a nightmare at the back.


Sparta vs Ajax: starting lineups

The home side relied on a more centralised formation, playing with 3 central midfielders in a 4-3-1-2 formation as Bryan Smeets played in the attacking midfield position. Up top for the home side was Thy and Rayhi with the hope that they would cause a greater physical battle for Ajax’s defense.

For Ajax, Zakaria Labyad would start only his 5th Eredivisie game in 3 seasons up-front after a good run of form in pre-season. Behind him would see Tadic, Promes and new signing Antony operate the attacking positions with Mazroui given the nod over USMNT star Sergiño Dest.

Excitement on the bench as David Neres returned after a lengthy injury, he would make an appearance for the last 15 minutes, replacing the goalscorer Antony. Interesting to note that new signing Mohammed Kudus was only good enough for the bench whilst also not featuring at all in this game. Certainly a player to keep an eye on throughout the course of the season.


How did the red card impact Ajax?

Erik Ten Hag was forced into an early change having to replace striker Zakaria Labyad for Dest in order to be much more organised at the back, in preparation of a greater attacking threat from Sparta Rotterdam.

The change enabelled Schuurs and Blind to continue their partnership at the centre of defense whilst Alvarez continued pushing further forward, playing in midfield. Perr Schuurs looked like the second coming of De Ligt in this game, his long range passing ability was impressive whilst also being strong and reliable at the back, winning this games ‘King Of The Match’.

The result of the red card led to the home side having 52% possession overall, edging out Ajax; who are known themselves to usually dominant in that area of the game.

In way of chances created, the red card meant that there was very little between the two sides as Sparta had 9 shots with only 3 being converted on target compared to Ajax’s 8 with 4 on target. The main concern for Ajax will be the roles played by Promes and Tadic, two players with immense quality whilst struggling to influence the game.

The game maybe going as many would had expected given that it was the first competitive game for either side since March as a result of the pandemic outbreak. Both sides seemed to fatigue as the game went on, with the dismissal of Tagliafico certainly having an affect on the away side.


How did the new faces do in their first appearances?

For Sparta, the main man up front Lennart Thy struggled to offer much in the way of chances on Ajax’s goal. The partnership of Blind and Schuurs proved to be too powerful even after Tagliafico’s sending off. A difficult start for the German, having made his debut signing from PEC Zwolle.

For Ajax, as mentioned, Antony looked lively. Any chance Ajax seemed to have in this game, it went through him. Although the goal itself came from a lucky bounce in the ground- the young winger cut inside from the right to curl a shot in to beat Van Leer at his far post. The Brazilian was far from shy on his debut; showing off to the fans the skills he had on offer.

Although it was not necessarily their debuts, it was exciting to see Ryan Gravenberch being relied on in the centre of midfield for Ajax, since the departure of Donny Van de Beek. The young midfielder has come off of an impressive pre-season with the first team whilst Jurrien Timber also featured in the opening game of the season, coming on as a substitute at right-back to see out the win in the last few minutes of the game.


The set up for an interesting season

The win means that they would follow suit with the other teams predicted to be competing for the title this season. PSV completed an away win against FC Groningen, whilst Feyenoord saw off PEC Zwolle on their opening fixture.

For Ajax, the loss of Van de Beek and Ziyech seemed to be evident as attacking opportunities seemed few and far between, even before the red card. It seems that it will take a while for the new faces to settle in and fill the void that the Premier League-bound stars leave behind.

Despite many looking at this as an easy win for the away side, it was important that they got off to a good start to ensure that they did not lose track on the other title contenders so early on in the campaign. If the Amsterdam club are to be in the hunt for the title this season then they will need to continue grinding out results, with PSV, Feyenoord and even AZ Alkmaar hot on their heels.


We hope you enjoyed this review of Sparta Rotterdam vs Ajax. Are you excited to have the Eredivisie return? Also, who do you think will come out victorious at the end of the season? Let us know!


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Sam is an International Relations Graduate from the University of East Anglia. Since graduating, he has gone on to write for the likes of: Sporting Feret; The 72; and The Sporting Blog. His experience writing for Sporting Feret has provided the opportunity to join the media team at Vanarama National League side King's Lynn Town FC. In the role, he conducts player interviews, writes match previews/report,s and is heavily involved in the club's match programmes. To contact him, his email is: [email protected]


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