Certainly in the second half the Ajax players didn’t do much anymore and Maurice Steijn’s team even earned a point from the meeting at home against the national champion.
But you don’t always get what you’re supposed to get. It does not alter the fact that Ajax delivered a collective failure despite the victory, the three points and the top position in the Eredivisie.
The visit to Sparta was as if it were a summer snack. The Ajax players actually acted against the brave Spartans from the first minute. The slow pace and the many sloppiness on the Amsterdam side almost broke the team in the second half.
Goalkeeper Remko Pasveer prevented Ajax from losing the lead through a goal from Steven Bergwijn with two beautiful saves on a shot by substitute Younes Namli and a swipe by Jason Lokilo. In the first half, Pasveer only came into the picture when there was a misunderstanding with Daley Blind, but after the break he confirmed why he is the first choice under the bar for Ajax coach Alfred Schreuder.
Incidentally, the national champion had already made the difference with Sparta by then. Eight minutes before the break, Blind intercepted a Sparta attack, Steven Bergwijn played in, who then started an adventurous run, concluded with an effective long shot: 0-1.
Calvin Bassey was in the base for the first time at Ajax.
Already the fourth goal in the Eredivisie from the man of more than thirty million euros. After his debut at PSV, Bergwijn scored regularly, but was not exactly known as a goal-getter. He only sporadically found the net at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, but the fact that he is so accurate back in his own country also says something about defending in the Eredivisie. On the level in general.
Incidentally, it is not the case that all Ajax attackers let this difference come to the surface at Sparta. The absent Antony – he is concerned about a possible transfer to Manchester United – of course not, but neither is his replacement Steven Berghuis.
He did not return to his favorite position in midfield, but the international had to make do with his old place: right winger. Berghuis did not exactly give the impression that he wanted to prove his trainer Schreuder wrong. Dutifully hobbling along was the best description of his input. In the more than 64 minutes that Berghuis got from Schreuder. Then the trainer had seen enough and had to leave for another disappointed international: Davy Klaassen. He also showed himself far too little during his raid. Apart from their status, they did not make it difficult for Schreuder to choose on the field.
The man that Berghuis and Klaassen have in front of them in the basic formation listens to the name Dusan Tadic. The captain was actually just as insignificant as Berghuis and later Klaassen, but is undisputed for Schreuder. After the substitution, Tadic occupied the position on right winger of Berghuis and Klaassen came in behind Brobbey as shadow striker.
Last season, after the 1-0 victory over Het Kasteel, Tadic had a tirade about the pitiful state of the synthetic turf field in Rotterdam-West. But now Sparta has a beautiful natural turf in the stadium and Tadic was unable to really distinguish itself on that either.
Which also applied to Brian Brobbey in the striker of Ajax. He is admired and the best striker of Ajax, but is not yet on the list of goalscorers in Amsterdam. How badly his visor is adjusted became apparent when he shot the crossbar for an empty goal after a great attack. Not long after, he was also allowed to take a premature shower.
So it was all very disappointing on the Amsterdam side after last week’s show against FC Groningen. When Antony was present. If the difficult and minimal 1-0 win over Sparta is a harbinger of what awaits Ajax when the Brazilian leaves for Manchester United, then it doesn’t bode well for the national champion, where Nigerian defender Calvin Bassey could look back on a meager Eredivisie debut.