Kolbeinn Sigþórsson grabbed a quintuple as Gertjan Verbeek’s AZ side grabbed their first win at home since November.
Graziano Pellè got an 89th-minute winner when these sides met at De Koel earlier this season, but there was never any danger of AZ needing a late clincher this time. The game was sealed just shy of the quarter-hour mark, but perhaps that was unsurprising – Venlo have been on a torrid run of form in the league recently, with no win since November 5, and now 25 goals leaked in their last eight games. AZ, on the other hand, came into this tie having drawn both games played after the winter break, but clearly saw it as a good opportunity to stop the rot. A win against the side second-bottom and eight points from safety has temporarily lifted AZ up to fourth, and given the Eredivisie what would appear to be a new free-scoring superstar-in-waiting to fill the boots of Luis Suárez. Continue reading →
Ajax 4-2 Vitesse, 14/08/2010. Two vastly different interpretations of 4-2-3-1.
Vitesse’s euphoria at an opening day victory over ADO Den Haag was short-lived, Ajax – admittedly uncomfortably – returning to winning ways.
Despite Luis Suárez’s suspension and cover in the midfield conspicuous by its absence, Martin Jol was still able to construct a strong ‘2-3’ as he restored his side to 4-2-3-1.
The 4-3-2-1 deployed against Groningen was shelved because another negative mob of wave-breakers lay in wait for this clash. Yet it wasn’t the formation that cost Ajax in Round One – rather, defensive lapses at set-pieces proved their undoing.
Fortunately for the Fulham-lusting tactician, his rearguard was at full-strength; Jan Vertonghen returning in place of Oleguer. Their opponents from Arnhem were also virile in the personnel department. Well, sort of….
Theo Bos has a minuscule squad, and this *strong* XI had a midfield with an average of <20. Stalwarts Piet Velthuizen (GK) and Dalibor Stevanovič (left-sided attacking midfielder) were excluded, both on the verge of book-balancing departures. Continue reading →
Emanuelson was Ajax's most potent weapon, forcing Luciano to cover his runs onto scooped passes. The Ajax flyer was aided by Kieftenbeld's roaming. While the Belgian's indiscipline proved costly, Fredrik Stenman's overlaps were coherent and punishing. Like Ajax, Groningen's threat came from the left, but in a different sense tactically - winger/full-back one-twos rather than hit-and-run football.
Ajax squandered a two-goal cushion in their first game of the 2010/11 league season, inexcusably dropping two points. The Amsterdammers can’t even cite the absence of a suspended Luis Suárez as a defining factor – if anyone, it was Jan Vertonghen whom they missed most.
A point apiece was by no means an inaccurate reflection of what was an enjoyable contest for the neutral spectator, one that pitted débutante coach Pieter Huistra against the club whose backroom he departed to join Groningen.
Huistra wasn’t alone in taking a welcoming bow at the Euroborg; Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jonas Ivens and Dušan Tadić shared their manager’s first-game nerves, while Mounir El Hamdaoui made his debut for the visitors.
The Moroccan led the Ajax line well, justifying his selection by burying two awkward-looking right-foot pokes that gave his new employers a 2-0 cushion.
Given the amount of play Vurnon Anita and Urby Emanuelson saw down the left-flank, it increasingly become inevitable at 0-0 that all El Hamdaoui had to do to open his account was time a slide into the six-yard-box. Continue reading →