Ajax fairy tale continues with yet another phenomenal performance in Turin, which got them a well-deserved ticked for the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Every year the Champions League offer us some kind of surprise with a team that no one expects to win performs admirably well or on the other side, a team that is heavy favourite slips and falls.
Events like that become one of the most memorable moments of that season and tend to be talked about long after the Champions League finishes. Last season it was the incredible turnaround of AS Roma, who beat Barcelona in quarterfinals, a year before that it was Monaco who got themselves to the semi-finals, and of course who can forget the incredible campaign from Atletico Madrid in 2015/16. And while we might have asked ourselves who or which team will be the main topic of discussion this year, I think we have found the answer yesterday.
The previous occurrences, when a team managed to defeat a strong favourite and proceeded deep into the tournament were incredible, however, this year just might be the year when a team from the Netherlands shocks the world. We are of course talking about Ajax, a team who were given zero to no chances of leaving a mark in the Champions League, but here they are, in the semi-finals.
The Ajax fairy tale has begun being written as soon as they appeared in the playoffs of the Champions League, but with their breath-taking performances, Ajax managed to add two more chapters. Their last and most recent chapter talking about the fierce fight against Italian champions Juventus.
After being paired with Juventus in the quarter-finals, most of the world seemed to agree that quarter-finals are where their campaign will end. This belief held strong even after the first match in Amsterdam, which ended with a final score of 1:1, thanks to goals from Ronaldo and Neres. Without any lead, Ajax travelled to Turin for the 2nd leg of the quarter-finals, which was expected to be their final stop before they leave the tournament, and it seemed like so at the start.
The match at Allianz Stadium started off with a solid performance from both sides, however, it was Juventus who scored the opener in the 28th minute after a great pass from Pjanic, who found Ronaldo in the penalty area. With the score line showing 1:0 for the Old Lady, Ajax knew they had to push for a goal, which is exactly what they did. Only 6 minutes after conceding a goal, van de Beek managed to find himself alone in front of the goal and scored for Ajax, thus equalizing the match at 1:1.
Ajax Vs Juventus All Goals and Highlights
— Premier League 2019 (@crcoorycomps672) April 16, 2019
The remainder of the 1st half saw Juventus pushing for another goal with all their might, but it seemed like it was just not meant to happen. Numerous attempts went wide, passes did not find their targets, and even Ronaldo failed to take the free kicks in his own style. The universe seemed to be working against Juventus, which became more obvious in the 2nd half.
— Stats Football (@statsfootbal) April 16, 2019
We saw a dominant performance from Juventus in the second half of the first 45 minutes, however, the match looked completely different in the 2nd half of the match, when Ajax took over. The moment when the whistle was blown to announce the start of the 2nd half, was the moment everything fell apart for Juventus who crumbled under the pressure of losing against Ajax.
The kid Matthijs de Ligt’s a superstar. What a moment for him & Ajax pic.twitter.com/ZPJhEEXjoo
— 🔴 The Red Debate 🎙 (@TheRedDebate) April 16, 2019
At this point, it seemed like we would be watching the story we saw in Madrid only a month ago. While there was no one that actually believed it will happen once again, those doubts soon turned into a reality in the 67th minute, when Ajax scored their 2nd goal from a corner kick. The player who scored the game-winning goal for Ajax was no other than Matthijs de Ligt, the 19-year-old prodigy and who, as it stands now is the most talked about player in the world.
Ajax managed the impossible twice in a row. First, they humiliated Real Madrid, then they showed no mercy to Juventus, who were expected to be the last chapter in their 2018/19 Champions League story.
At this point we must ask ourselves; where does it end for Ajax? If the 13th time Champions League winners Real Madrid and the most dominant team in Serie A, Juventus, failed to withstand the might of “de Godenzonen”, how much of a chance does Tottenham or Manchester City have?