Ajax – PSV: International talents & Eredivisie’s stars
In the Netherlands, the game that is known as the one and only true Klassieker (Classic in Dutch) is Ajax-Feyenoord. However, this Saturday the two teams with the most league titles under their belt face each other in a game that could be considered as an advanced version of ‘Next Gen-Series-football’. Both might have won a European Champions Cup/ Champions League the last 25 years. But, apart from Red Star Belgrade, no other club with that achievement has weakened so severely as these two did. Their dependence on academy players and shrewd signings is bigger than ever, as they seem unable to compete at European level at the moment, despite Ajax’ impressive performances against Manchester City the last month.
Back in the day, a four point haul in two matches over the Citizens would’ve been dubbed as ‘down to Ajax’ strength’, these days it’s the terrible performance on City’s behalf that’s pointed out. In the Europa League, PSV got knocked out by Ukranian Dnipro Dinpropetovsk, something that would’ve been dubbed a surprise in earlier years, but has become more of the expected in the latter.
And so a game between these two has lost its high profile. But while this clash may not bring the established players in the way it used to, there still is plenty enough talent to keep an eye on. League leaders PSV Eindhoven(14 played, 33 points) boast the likes of Dutch international players like Luciano Narsingh, Kevin Strootman, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jeremain Lens and Jetro Willems and due to their tender age, one can only assume these men are on their way to something bigger. Together with Belgian winger Dries (Haha I broke your nose Gary Cahill) Mertens and nurtured by the experienced Mark van Bommel and Wilfred Bouma, it’s a rather attractive side to watch. While managed by Dick Advocaat, the team is scoring freely, finding the net 49 times already this season.
Advocaat’s opponent this Saturday, young Frank de Boer, who has made a storming start to his managerial career, has a squad dominated by young talent as well. Fourth placed home-side Ajax (14 played, 27 points) have newly-capped Dutch international Kenneth Vermeer on goal and international Ricardo van Rhijn as right back while Siem De Jong and Danny Blind were included in Louis van Gaals Dutch national squad against Germany. The former companion of Jan Vertonghen, Belgium’s Toby Alderweireld is still going strong in central defence. But perhaps most eye-catching are the two Danish Diamonds that Ajax possess. First and foremost 20-year old attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen, who despite his young age already has two major international tournaments under his belt. The other is Viktor Fischer (18), who has impressed in the aforementioned Next Gen Series and scored two for Ajax in the first Eredivisie-game he started, followed up by his first minutes for the Danish national side. Oh, Danish team-mate and former Liverpool-player Christian Poulsen is joining the party as well, the veteran has been rather influential this season, both positive and negative.
While this game may not have the glamour it used to have, the top prospects of both teams are still likely to make an impact on the bigger stage. Talents on their way to a bigger claim to fame. Instead of watching a blockbuster-movie, it’s like watching a low-budget one with some of the actors soon to be seen in cinemas nearby.
Ajax – PSV will kick-off on Sunday the 1st of December, 20:45 local time
Photo Credit: Wikipedia