Ajax – Napoli: Neapolitan Eruption Pummels Ajax Into Ash (1-6)
Vying for the right to get into the knockout stages, Ajax stole a march on their guests. But they committed the cardinal sin of upsetting a volcano. A rupture in the fabric of the natural scene in south Italy over the summer has set off a fatal eruption to which the Dutch were a brutal victim.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
The reputation of European competition strikes a chord with many, but its riches are for a select few. Without them, prestige counts for little at the top: a fate at the expense of the two competing teams.
Power dynamics can be hard to shake. A clear-out is always on the horizon from the peak of the cycle of an Ajax outfit. Yet, this window has been a particularly painful pill for them to swallow. Not only have half of their first choice outfield players from last season have moved on to pastures anew, but also Erik ten Hag is no longer in the dugout as their manager. Alfred Schreuder, one of his former assistants, must now shoulder the load of expectation, no longer the number two in the pecking order.
Napoli, steeped in folklore, are embracing the idea of hailing a new set of icons. Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, and Lorenzo Insigne, the local hero, have left loose ends on a tale of agony. Nearly leaving behind the best gift of all, a Scudetto, they could not fulfill the 32 year quest to finish at the top of Serie A. But the reconstruction of the side's backbone has not upset manager Luciano Spalletti. His men are eager to banish old demons sitting at . . .