Two sides with a combined 10 European titles, rich history and unmatched heritage coming face to face with each other, it’s not just any match it’s a battle of legacy. Last night 4 times Champion Ajax came face to face with 6 times champion Liverpool at Johan Cruyff Arena and here is our exclusive Ajax vs Liverpool tactical review.
The Liverpool side was missing their Dutch talisman, Van Dijk who underwent an ACL injury and is reportedly out for the season, it was a gap that was hard to fill. Ajax, on the other hand, had lost a lot of their key players this summer, in form of Van De Beek, Ziyech and Dest. The fixture was thus shrouded with an air of anxiety and uncertainty from both sides. It was Liverpool who finally had the last laugh as they came victorious with a 0-1 score courtesy to a Tagliafico own goal. We are looking at the tactical aspects behind Liverpool’s victory over the Dutch giants.
Fast-Paced Start to the Game
Our Ajax vs Liverpool tactical review starts with the pace of the game. Both the teams started the match quickly trying to unsettle each other, the main aim of both side was clear from the word go. Ajax and Liverpool engaged themselves in a battle of pressing. Both the teams wanted to approach the game by quickly moving the ball around the pitch and position themselves in the half-spaces.
Ajax was pressing the Liverpool’s makeshift backline heavily from the start in order to force them to make a mistake resulting in an opportunity for Ajax. Liverpool, on the other hand, was looking to take control of the midfield by pressing heavily in the central areas of the pitch
Battle of Counter Attacks
It is safe to say, both the teams were relying heavily on the counter-attack to be their main weapon. Liverpool and Ajax both were looking comfortable in transitions as they were easily creating numerical overloads in both defence and attack.
Liverpool was depending a lot on the pace of their front 3 while entering into their attacking transition phase, on the other hand, Ajax was giving more importance to winning the ball high up the pitch and attack through the right side where Promes can get past Trent Alexander Arnold and can drift centrally to create a goal-scoring opportunity for the team.
Liverpool’s goal was also a result from such a break way move, despite Tagliafico’s mistake a lot of credit goes to Mane who forced the Ajax defence to go into a frenzy due to his sharp movement from the flank.
Liverpool’s Defensive Woes
Despite keeping a clean sheet, Liverpool’s defence was put to test a lot of times by the Ajax front line. Liverpool’s defence sometimes looked brittle as there was a lack of understanding between the players on some occasions. Gomez looked quite nervy at the beginning, though he looked a much better version of himself in the second half. Fabinho was arguably the best player for the Reds last night due to his presence a sense of solidity still prevailed over the backline.
Liverpool took the strategy of pushing the left back up and thus the Right back Trent was seen to be on the defensive a lot more than he normally does. Liverpool tried to crowd out the defence in case of Ajax’s attack to give no space to the Dutch outfit to play between the lines. Despite shakiness at the back, Liverpool looked quite solid throughout the game despite missing their Dutch sensation Van Dijk.
Liverpool’s dominance from the Left side
One of the biggest talking points of this Ajax vs Liverpool tactical review is Liverpool’s dominance over the left flank. Robertson and Mane were the two standout performers last night.
Robertson was assigned to be the more attacking and we have seen him making frequent forward runs and his combination with Mane made it tough for the Ajax defenders to stop them. Scrubbers and Blind were kept busy throughout the night by Robertson’s link-up play with Mane.
The main aim for the Liverpool combo was to play the ball wide and then move centrally or try to whip a cross into the box, according to the situation. When Mane was substituted Jota took up the role. He also continued the dominance as he used his 1 vs. 1 skill to maximum effect as he created quite a few chances at the closing stages of the game.
Fabinho: The Man of the Moment
There is no doubt the man of the match for Liverpool was Fabinho. Despite playing out of his natural position, it looked he made the position of the centre back his own. From interception to duels he looked at the top of his game.
His goal-line clearance can pretty much be the biggest talking point of the game. He showed his aerial prowess against players like Tadic who is known for his aerial prowess.
He covered a lot of ground, despite not being recognized for being the fastest player on the pitch; he used his positional awareness to his use. He was always present in the position where he was needed.
Liverpool’s hard-earned victory can be a defining moment for them, as they are looking forward to a life without Van Dijk. The clean sheet will also give confidence to the players like Gomez and Adrian who were under the heavy scrutiny of the fans due to their lacklustre performance in the last few matches. Ajax will now look forward to their next encounter to open their points tally this season in the Champions League. This can pretty much turn out to be the match that defined the season for both of the clubs.
What is your opinion on the Ajax vs Liverpool Tactical Review? Who do you think will win this fixture? Let us know in the comment section below.