Ajax have gone about giant-killing again; the latest in their story of this season’s wonderful Champions League campaign is of collective brilliance over individuality. This team is perhaps not about to win the competition three times in a row but have dispelled the individualistic dominance of first Real Madrid and then Cristiano Ronaldo over this competition in recent years.

Erik ten Hag’s young guns have not only displayed a brand of football that would have had the spirit of Johan Cryuff smiling down from the heavens; they are also very fearless and are full of goals, 155 already netted in all competitions this season. 
The teamwork, coherence and belief in this team is almost unbelievable for players so young that Juventus’ veterans of Champions league campaigns could not cope. Two fantastic Ronaldo headers over both legs could not keep them down; and the manner of their come-from-behind 2-1 win away in last night’s second leg showed their resilience.

Ronaldo hadn’t been knocked out of the Champions league since May 2015. Image: AFP/GETTY

The thrilling young side constantly got at The old lady‘s famous defence (What it is these days), and could have scored more after a couple of great saves from Wojciech SzczÄ™sny and a goal correctly ruled out for offside. 
The win was personified by Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, who made 10 ball recoveries. He was found wanting for Ronaldo’s opening goal but it’s fitting that the win was sealed by a great header to take them to the semi finals. It’s Ajax’s first Champions League semi final since 1997, before De Ligt was born. 
 It’s foolish to write off Ajax any more in this year’s European campaign as a clash with Manchester City or Tottenham beckons. These lads are capable of anything and fear absolutely no one.

Ajax players celebrated a thrilling night. Image: Reuters 
Europe’s biggest teams are already plotting which of these special talents they prefer in the summer; Frenkie de Jong is on his way to Barcelona and de Ligt is also set to leave. This team has written a brilliant chapter in the illustrious history of Ajax, and that takes some doing. 
Elsewhere, Barcelona versus Man United showed off a shooting masterclass (And a goalkeeping clanger), on a night when Pogba happened to have an off-showing. United were solid at winning the ball in the first leg but could barely do anything for/with the ball last night. It’s now Five defeats in the last seven for United and all that excitement about Ole-ball is drowned by reality. 

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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