It was all under the closed roof of the Johan Cruyff Arena. Six goals, a lot of space, great chances, great goals interspersed with big mistakes. A standing ovation after eighteen-year-old Ajax player Silvano Vos received a red card after two yellow cards concluded the exciting evening. Ajax achieved a difficult victory over Olympique Marseille with a score of 3-3 in the first match of the group in the European League.
Wild balls into the stands, deep passes in the air, defensive mistakes – it all happened. Not paying attention, and you’ve missed an opportunity. Meanwhile, men and women sit in the stands biting their nails, in what mood were they going to travel to the stadium on Thursday evening, to their club in crisis?
Meslintate is not there
There is no doubt that all eyes are on Croatian left-back Borna Sousa, who is a regular in the starting lineup. It was announced on Tuesday that Ajax had launched an investigation into Sosa’s transfer due to the involvement of a business partner of Sven Mislintat, Ajax’s director of football.
Read also: About the Sven Mislintat deal And the peace that coach Maurice Stein is no longer able to maintain in Amsterdam
Mislintat will not be in the stands on Thursday, nor will he be in the stands against Feyenoord next Sunday. The club management has informed him that he must remain out of the picture during the investigation. What is visible is a single banner on the F side with the text “Rvc out”. Fanatic supporter groups had already called for the departure of the supervisory board earlier in the week.
At Olympique de Marseille, Ajax met FC on Thursday evening, which is also unsettled. Two days before the match against Ajax, newly appointed Spanish coach Marcelino Garcia Toral resigned again, following threats from fan groups following a poor start to the season. Interim French coach Jacques Abardonado led his first training session just one day before the match against Ajax.
Outside, there are dozens of police trucks, and inside, two coaches, Maurice Stein and Abardonado, are constantly tense in front of the dugout. The game was sparked by a seemingly innocuous long ball from goalkeeper Jay Gorter. Marseille defender Chancel Mbemba passes the ball under the ball, and then the speedy Carlos Forbes fires an unmissable chance past goalkeeper Pau Lopez. Exhilarating scenes at Johan Cruyff Stadium – the hoped-for start.
You would expect a goal like this to give the right push. But it soon becomes clear how fragile Ajax is. Difficult clashes in defence, an incorrect back pass from defender Josep Sutalo and Marseille striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, went all the way to goalkeeper Gorter. He stands still and stops the half-missed pin.
A minute later, Kenneth Taylor had another great chance. Shortly afterwards, Ajax scored 2-0. After a short corner kick by Borna Sosa, who sent a perfect ball to Steven Berghuis, who moved intelligently on the edge of the sixteen-meter area. He shoots hard and clean with his left hand.
Ajax looks to be having an easy evening. But three minutes later the score became 2-1. Jonathan Klaus easily penetrates the defence, including Sosa, and shoots convincingly. A minute later, Taylor had another great chance after a good pass from striker Brian Probbe.
Overall, the score could have been 4-3 after less than half an hour of football. Among the large spaces available is the opportunity for Marseille striker Elimane Ndiaye, who rarely appears free in front of Ajax’s goal. But he doesn’t get the ball well and hits the crossbar.
At this point, Ajax’s defensive organization is very fragile. There is almost no midfield. After a blocking attack from Ajax, after 37 minutes of football, Marseille collects simply and quickly. Aubameyang sneaks past defender Jurel Hato, then Sosa does not catch him, and scores 2-2.
Shortly before half-time, there was a great chance from Azzedine Ouanahi to make it 2-3, but Ajax escaped. However, there is a cautious whistle at the half-time signal.
After the break, Ajax played more controlled, with youth player Silvano Vos as a midfielder in place of the $1 million bought Benjamin Dahirovic. From a classic Ajax attack, the home team quickly scored 3-2: Forbes opened from the right side, who passed the ball well to Taylor, who shot completely freely through the goalkeeper.
Captain Steven Bergwijn has a chance to make it 4-2 midway through the second half, after good preparation work by Proby. But goalkeeper Lopez made a good save.
It will cost Ajax dearly. Because fifteen minutes before the end, Aubameyang scored 3-3. He gets a lot of space from right-back Anton Gueye. The crowd is still on the bench for a moment, when Taylor has a great chance, but he fires the ball over the bar.
A version of this article also appeared in the September 22, 2023 newspaper.
“Total coffee specialist. Hardcore reader. Incurable music scholar. Web guru. Freelance troublemaker. Problem solver. Travel trailblazer.”