In Forever Ajacied, we take a weekly look at the performances of former Ajax players around the globe.
Christian Eriksen produced a finish out of the top drawer in Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea, an important goal for the Dane who has been struggling in recent weeks, to the point where he was left out of Spurs’ XI as they lost at Monaco and were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday.
But Eriksen returned to the side at Stamford Bridge with a goal, playing the full 90 minutes, while leading Tottenham with four shots. Jan Vertonghen also played the duration of the defeat to Chelsea, completing over 80 per cent of his passes, winning all of his aerial duels and completing a team-high six clearances and three interceptions.
Manchester United’s ex-Ajax duo led them to an undefeated week, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic starts to find his form. The striker cleverly forced Brad Jones into an own-goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Feyenoord in the Europa League, while scoring and producing four shots and five key passes against West Ham, both more than any other player on the pitch.
Daley Blind didn’t feature on Sunday, but he played a cherished 90 minutes in the win over Feyenoord, helping to keep the clean sheet.
Viktor Fischer got a late cameo in Middlesbrough’s draw with Leicester, while Mike van der Hoorn was an unused substitute in Swansea’s thrilling victory over Crystal Palace.
Toby Alderweireld didn’t feature for Tottenham as a result of an injury, while Vurnon Anita was kept out of Newcastle’s team in a 1-0 defeat to Blackburn.
Barcelona’s tailspin looked to be over with a 2-0 victory over Celtic in midweek, but they stumbled into more misery on Sunday in a 1-1 draw away to Real Sociedad. Luis Suarez played the duration of both matches, but was held without a goal. He led the line well against Celtic, denied his goal only by a world class stop by Craig Gordon, but didn’t enjoy the same success against Sociedad, failing to record a shot on target, while being flagged four times for offside.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar inches closer to a possible January return to Ajax, playing no part in Schalke’s current plans.
Niklas Moisander played the duration of Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw at Hamburg, leading the team with 59 touches, but he barely completed 60 per cent of his passes, while winning just six of his 11 duels, a low figure for a centre-half.
Serie A continues to be a wasteland for ex-Ajax players with Arek Milik a long-term absentee. Thomas Vermaelen was a 92nd minute substitute for Roma against Pescara, making just his third appearance of the season, while Ricardo Kishna (Lazio) and Robert Muric (Pescara) struggle to get a look.
Maxwell enjoyed a busy week deputising at left-back for PSG, playing maximum minutes in their 2-2 Champions League draw at Arsenal and 2-1 win over Lyon in the league on Sunday. He produced seven open play crosses in the two matches combined, while completing over 90 per cent of his passes and not committing a single foul.
Despite falling 4-0 at home to Groningen, Queensy Menig impressed for Zwolle, registering a match-high six shots, three of which he got on target. The same can’t be said for Mickey van der Haart as Groningen shipped four past him on seven shots on target. Neither Danny Hoesen or Hedwiges Maduro featured for the visitors.
Siem de Jong had a lethargic night in midfield for PSV, pulled off in the 67th minute as they won 3-1 at home to Den Haag on Saturday. He completed close to 90 per cent of his passes, but failed to pick out a key pass or create a chance. Him and brother Luuk were unused subs against Atletico on Wednesday night.
It was a struggle for Lerin Duarte and the rest of his Heracles team-mates as they were trounced 5-1 at AZ.
Ricardo van Rhijn and Stefano Denswil were left on the bench as Club Brugge made the trip to Leicester in midweek, but the former came off the bench for the final 20 minutes and created two chances as he tried to spark a late comeback. They both returned to the starting XI against Mechelen on Friday, a resounding 6-1 win, with Van Rhijn also registering an assist.
Eyong Enoh was an unused substitute against Celta Vigo on Thursday and Belgian leaders Zulte-Waregem on the weekend.
Wesley Sneijder spearheaded Galatasaray’s 3-1 win over Bursaspor, scoring the winning goal while leading the team with five shots (three on target) and three key passes.
Nigel de Jong also started for the hosts, and while he impressed in possession, he uncharacteristically struggled in the challenge failing to win any of his six duels.
Ismail Aissati was rested during Alanyaspor’s 3-0 win over Kayserispor, as was Hyun-Jun Suk (Trabzonspor).
REST OF EUROPE
Lucas Andersen opened the scoring for Grasshopper in their 2-2 draw with St. Gallen on Saturday, as did Jody Lukoki after just three minutes for Ludogorets in a 3-1 win over Botev Plovdiv.
Miralem Sulejmani created just one chance and was dragged off in the 59th minute of Young Boys’ 1-1 draw with Olympiakos in the Europa League, before lasting 80 minutes in their 2-1 win over Lausanne Sport on the weekend.
Rafael van der Vaart played 70 minutes in Midtjylland’s 1-0 win over Odense.
Ruben Ligeon got 15 minutes off the bench, while Lesley de Sa was unused as Slovan Bratislava fell 2-1 away to leaders Zilina.
Nicolas Lodeiro’s Seattle became the first team to book their place in this year’s MLS Cup final. The Uruguayan’s penalty gave the Sounders a 2-1 win in Tuesday’s first leg, before proving a catalyst for them in Sunday’s 1-0 triumph in Colorado to secure a 3-1 aggregate win.
Lodeiro will face Sebastian Giovinco and Toronto FC or Didier Drogba’s Montreal Impact in the final.