While us here at the blog could debate the positioning of Stekelenburg vs France or the Dost disallowed goals vs Sweden for weeks on end, the Dutch have shrugged off the Oranje drama and are all looking forward to what comes next!
Which obviously is the Classic, this coming Sunday. I have to say “classic” actually. The Capital C should be reserved for the home game for Feyenoord, in De Kuip. Playing in the
Amsterdam Johan Cruyff Arena is simply not the same. And definitely not without any Feyenoord supporters allowed in…
So, the debate within the KNVB is going to go on ( will Louis van Gaal become the newly created CEO role? will Hans van Breukelen survive the assessment about his functioning? which coaches can we expect on the short list?) and I’ll keep on informing you about all that.
In the meantime, the media are focusing on the clash of the two Titans. And the key players in the Dutch classic encounter, are not Dutch players, but Moroccon! and interestingly enough, they are close friends, on opposing sides.
King Karim El Ahmadi vs Seer Ziyech
They could have played for Feyenoord together by the way. When Ziyech (24) left Heerenveen, Feyenoord wanted to sign the playmaker but he picked his career path with care and brushed Feyenoord off. And picked FC Twente. He does make funny choices. On the pitch, he’s all class. Off the pitch…. He picked Twente and they got into trouble soon after (unrelated) which meant Hakim Ziyech ended up leading a pack of juniors, with the aim to not get relegated. And he also picked Morocco over Oranje (due to an alleged conflict with ex-coach Van Basten and lack of warmth from Blind), but his headstrong personality resulted in the current Morocco coach to ignore him for the national team. El Ahmadi (32) was the midfield man for them in the Africa Cup, while Ajax was able to utilise Ziyech domestically.
Character vs Class
Not really, though Ziyech oozes class but has character for sure, while El Ahmadi is the symbol of Feyenoord’s resilience, but the younger El Ahmadi was definitely a creative artist when he was at Twente. But his days in England have turned the flegmatic midfielder into a leader. Not unlike Phillip Cocu’s metamorphosis, from inconsistent left winger to hard working midfielder.
El Ahmadi was the moral victor in the last meeting between the two. Ziyech was signed for 12 mio euros from Twente to do exactly what he is aiming this Sunday. To put Ajax on top again. El Ahmadi, who was rested last week by the Morocco coach as a gesture to him and Feyenoord, knows that a win will mean they got the title.
El Amhadi will not have the Robin to his Batman in midfield. Tonny Vilhena is suspended for two games. Toornstra or young talent Nieuwkoop will complete the eleven.
Another interesting clash is the meeting of two white elephants in goal. Brad Jones and Andre Onana. At the start of the season, it was not even conceivable that these two goalies would become fan favorites and key in their respective teams’ game plan. Tim Krul was supposed to succeed Cillesen and Ken Vermeer was #1 in De Kuip with recovering Bernard Hahn as second in command. But Onana shrugged off the mistakes he used to make in Young Ajax and the 20 year old has established himself firmly in the starting line up. The Cameroon born player still likes to display his football skills (as he did away vs Groningen), and sometimes it goes wrong… But versus Groningen, he was fouled (not seen by the ref). Despite this, in front of the cameras, he admitted that despite the referee’s mistake, it actually was situation he should have avoided. The youngster also kept a cool head vs Feyenoord, when after Kuyt’s goal, Kramer tapped the mourning goalie on the head. He didn’t react.
Ajax wants to go on with this youngster. Krul is now at AZ and Overmars and co are currently negotiating with Onana for a continued stay as Ajax’ #1 goalie.
Brad Jones has had many clubs in his life. From playing some CL games for Liverpool he went to mid-table club NEC from Nijmegen where the aficionados recognised a classy albeit aging goalie. Confronted with Vermeer’s major injury (and Hahn not fit), Martin van Geel picked up the transfer free Aussie and with his experience and more importantly, his Australian Rules football experience, the keeper rules in the Feyenoord box and has had a massive impact on the success, with his composed and controlled nature.
Coach van Bronckhorst made it clear some months ago: whatever is happening with Vermeer and his return to fitness, Jones will be our #1 goalie this season! This message resulted in clarity and harmony in the Feyenoord camp. But the expensive Kenneth Vermeer (31) will most likely return to the number 1 spot next season, while the free agent and 35 year old less expensive Jones might well have to find another club. “I do not worry about the future. I understand how these things work. My focus is winning the title. The rest will fall into place.”
Here are some classic Classics…
1964: Feyenoord – Ajax 9-4
Ajax with Cruyff and Swart took the lead twice but Hans Venneker scored 5 goals this match for Feyenoord. It’s 5-2 at half time.
1983: Ajax – Feyenoord 8-2
Cruyff switched sides and took his new team to Amsterdam to be humiliated by the kids he helped develop. Van Basten, Vanenburg, Jesper Olsen allowed Feyenoord to get to 3-2 before they rant riot. After the game, interviewed for national television, Cruyff said: “It’s just three points. We will still win the title”. And they did.
1995: Ajax – Feyenoord 1-2 quarter finals national cup
The year Ajax beat everything and everyone and took the Champions League. But in the quarter finals, it was cult hero Mike Obiku who scored the winner in extra time. Feyenoord would win the cup that year.
1995: Feyenoord – Ajax 2-4
Half a year later, Ajax is King of Europe. Feyenoord starts ferocious and leads 0-2 in the first seven minutes of the game. Ajax straightens its back and scores four times to take the three points.
2005: Ajax – Feyenoord 1-2
The last time Feyenoord won in Amsterdam. Kalou and Kuyt the goal scorers for the visitors. Feyenoord would win the home game as well (3-2) and that impressed so much that a documentary and two books were made about this feat.
2012: Feyenoord – Ajax 4-2
John Guidetti’s year. He loves Feyenoord and despises Ajax, as he demonstrated recently playing against Ajax with Celta de Vigo. The loanie from Sweden scored a hattrick and is a Feyenoord legend forever.
2015: Feyenoord – Ajax 1-0 third round national cup
Ajax rules in the Eredivisie and withstands Feyenoord’s pressure until the dying minutes. A last free kick in the 95th minute is swooped into the box and Joel Veltman allows the ball to ricochet into the goal. De Kuip explodes and Feyenoord would end up winning the Cup again. The festivities are insane at De Coolsingel but will fade compared to the party that will ensue when Feyenoord beats Ajax this weekend yet again.