Hot off the back of a Europa League victory against Panathinaikos, Ajax will travel to the Abe Lenstra Stadion on Sunday to face a Heerenveen side that sit 4th in the Eredivisie. The Amsterdam side are in outstanding form coming in to the game, the win in midweek bringing their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.
Bosz himself has already expressed that the ‘game at Heerenveen will be tough’ in his post-match interview midweek, but you have to feel that the Ajax boss had the foresight to realise this by fielding a relatively young side against the Greek club; opting to rest some of their more key players for Sunday’s fixture.
Ajax have won 8 of their last 10 league games coming into the match, drawing the other 2. Heerenveen on the other hand have taken a slight dip in form over the recent weeks after a more than promising start to the season. The home side have only won 2 of their last six league matches and are without a win in 3; Ajax may feel this is a better time than any to play a Heerenveen team that could narrow the gap to 4 points between the 2 sides with a win at the weekend.
Unfortunately for Heerenveen the stats don’t lie and history shows that Ajax shouldn’t have a problem against them when the sides meet this Sunday. You’d actually have to go way back to the 08/09 season to find the last time that Heerenveen actually beat Ajax. Fortunately for Heerenveen stats can be misleading – the side has come a long way in recent years and the game is likely to be a slightly tighter affair.
Ajax have won their last 4 games between the two sides by a 3 goal margin and have found the net twice or more in their last 10. Aside from this match they’ve found the net in every single Eredivisie game so far, averaging 2.17 goals per away match. At the other end conceding just 0.67 per game on their travels. One would think that this kind of scoring record is a slight omen for Heerenveen, and Ajax will be looking to continue the trend with players such as Kasper Dolberg and Hakim Ziyech in the team.
Did You Know? – Heerenveen have found the net in 13 straight games
Jerry St. Juste
The 20 year old Dutch centre back has been ever present for Heerenveen this season making 13 appearances already. The versatile defender who is comfortable on the ball and calm in distribution has already been compared to the likes of Real Madrid’s Rafael Varane. The young defender will make his 60th appearance for the club on Sunday and he is already become one of the staples of this Heerenveen side.
The ball playing centre back has a pass success rate of 92% which is higher than anyone else in the league this season (who has over 10 apps) and after forging a strong partnership with Joost Van Aken, Ajax will definitely have their work cut out for them if they wish to continue their prolific scoring record against the side.
The 19 year-old Danish striker has really made a name for himself this year with Peter Bosz putting his upmost faith in the youngster by allowing him to spearhead a side which has in the past seen footballing legends the likes of Ibrahimovic and Suarez adopt the same role; There’s no doubt that Dolberg has a bright future ahead of him and there’s no reason he can’t emulate these legends.
The Danish wonderkid has slowly established himself as the main man in this Ajax team, his 1st half hat-trick last week against NEC brought his tally to 8 goals in 9 appearances and joint top of the Eredivisie goalscoring charts. With form as good as that, it is no wonder that teams such as Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United keeping a close eye on the striker. If anyone is going to make the difference on Sunday you’ve got to assume that Kasper Dolberg will bear some kind of significance on the final result.
INJURIES & SUSPENSIONS
Experienced Heerenveen defensive midfielder Stijn Schaars is the only injured player in the run up to this game, who is out until the beginning of December with a calf injury. Hakim Ziyech may feature for Ajax; his fitness will be assessed prior to the match after falling ill last week.
There is no doubt that this game will be a tough tie for Ajax despite hitting such great form in the lead up to the game. If we’re judging by stats and previous match-ups then you’d have back Ajax to win this by a few goals to the good. Saying this, Heerenveen are enjoying a fairly successful season and I would expect the game to be closer than in previous years. Despite this, Ajax have been in hot goal scoring form and if Dolberg has anything to say about it I’m quite sure that we’ll see a few more this Sunday.
Heerenveen 1 – 3 Ajax