Ajax made their long-awaited return to Europe’s top table against AEK Athens during their opening fixture of the 2018/2019 Champions League and it’s fair to say it was an emphatic return. The Eredivisie outfit put three goals past their Greek opponents in a vintage Ajax performance.
Champions League fans have been robbed of seeing the free-flowing Ajax in action since 2014 when they last qualified for the event. It has been a barren spell for the four-time European Cup champions but, now they are back in the mix, they could well enjoy a long run in Europe this season.
Good to be back in the @ChampionsLeague! 😉#UCL #ajaaek pic.twitter.com/kG4jwJkfNb
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 19, 2018
There was lots to like about Ajax’ winning display against AEK and their unwavering desire to play Total Football is a not only a joy to watch for their faithful following but also the neutrals.
There are few clubs in Europe that are as uncompromising as Ajax when it comes to how their football should be played with their blistering pace and dominant possession of the ball tailor-made for European success.
Ajax have been able to hold onto their key playmaker Hakim Ziyech who was one of five players Oddschecker tipped for a Premier League move after the World Cup. The Moroccan star has pledged his future to Ajax for the time being and, despite very obvious interest from Everton and Liverpool, he will be at the Johan Cruijff Arena for a while longer.
Top rated players in the Eredivisie this season:
🥇H. Ziyech — Ajax (8.72)
🥈R. Van Persie — Feyenoord (8.29)
🥉L. De Jong — PSV (8.28)https://t.co/8tcUCizuqB pic.twitter.com/1uNVeobDSN
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 14, 2018
It would have been a blow for Liverpool and Everton to miss out on the sensational Ziyech but their loss is Ajax’s gain.
The Moroccan caught the eye every time he had the ball against AEK as he danced through their defense with ease.
Ajax have a prestigious history on the continent and a European pedigree that lies at the heart of their DNA. If they get on a run, then there is no saying with any certainty that they will be easily stopped.