Ajax – Bayern Munich: two already qualified teams make for one of the most fun games of 2018 (3-3)
This game was fun, y’all. Really, really fun. Some smart tactical tweaks, a few brilliant goals, some of the most gifted young players in football, two bizarre red cards and a whole lot of twists and turns in the final minutes. Bayern look steadier than they did a month ago. While this very young Ajax squad seems to be legit-legit, as in: a team deserving a spot amongst the world’s sixteen best teams.
Tactical analysis and match report by Sam Planting.
Even though PSV are still leading the Eredivisie table – albeit by a two-point margin now, after a defeat to Feyenoord – Ajax have been able to breeze by opponents in full cruise control-mode in their domestic league. Even though the total scoring margin in their last three games looks impressive (12-2), Ajax have not played their most inspired football in their own league lately. They were clearly looking ahead to this game: a chance to, shockingly, win this Champions League group, if they would be able to defeat Bayern in the Johan Cruijff Arena.
Manager Erik ten Hag tried to do so by opting for a starting eleven that was very similar to the one that grabbed a deserved point in the game at Bayern (1-1). In Ajax’ usual 4-2-3-1 formation, deep-lying playmaker Lasse Schöne was replaced by center-back Maximilian Wöber, with Daley Blind joining probably-PSG-bound Frenkie de Jong in the double pivot. 4-2-3-1 is one of the most frequently occurring formations in football. The two most defensive midfielders are called a ‘double pivot’. Up top, Dusan Tadić was . . .