Football

Are Hakim Ziyech’s Comments About the 2018-19 Champions League Final Fair?

Are Hakim Ziyech’s Comments About the 2018-19 Champions League Final Fair?

According to reports, Hakim Ziyech, who is soon to be competing in the Premier League with Chelsea following a £33.6 million plus add-ons transfer, recently made a bold claim by suggesting that Ajax could certainly have beaten Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium had they made the final. So, would Ajax have beaten Liverpool in the 2018-19 Champions League final?

Could Ajax Have Beaten Liverpool?

Given that Liverpool weren’t at their imperious best during their victory over Tottenham Hotspur, many believe that there may be an element of truth to the Moroccan’s statement. Throughout the entirety of the 2018-19 Champions League campaign, Ajax punched above their weight for much of the competition. Moreover, had it not been for a 96th-minute winner from Lucas Moura at the Johan Cruyff Arena in the second leg of de Godenzonen’s semi-final clash with Spurs in May 2019, the Dutch side would have found themselves in their first Champions League final since 1995.

Fundamentally, to completely disregard any talk of the Dutch side upsetting the odds and pulling off a shock victory over the now six-time European Champions would be somewhat overlooking their memorable run to the final. Having triumphed over both Real Madrid and Juventus in the earlier knockout rounds of the competition, few could argue that Ajax hadn’t secured their spot in the tournament’s latter stages on merit. Crucially, at a neutral venue, it would be rash to suggest that Erik ten Hag’s team wouldn’t have been in with a chance against the Reds in Madrid, especially given their historic away wins at the Allianz Stadium and Santiago Bernabeu. 

Liverpool May Not Have Played in the Same Fashion

While an argument can be made to suggest that Ajax would have been immensely competitive against the performance that Jurgen Klopp’s side put in against Spurs, such a suggestion would be overlooking the tactical adaptability of the Reds’ German manager.

Throughout the 2018-19 season, Ten Hag’s side became renowned for reinventing the Dutch side’s iconic style of possession football, with the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Ziyech at the very heart of the system. As a result, it’s highly unlikely that Klopp would have allowed his team to defend so deeply against Ajax as they did with Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, as, in the final, they conceded 65 per cent of the possession to their opponents.

Moreover, Ajax’s attack-heavy style must also be taken into consideration. Since the arrival of Klopp on Merseyside, the six-time champions of Europe have become one of the world’s most feared sides because of their offensive fluidity and unpredictability, turning them into regular favourites for the Champions League at football betting sites like Space Casino. As such, facing Ajax would have made for an intriguing clash of styles, one which may have seen Liverpool alter their approach.

Nothing is Certain in Football

Ultimately, it’s impossible to suggest that Ajax wouldn’t have stood a chance against Liverpool had they have made it to the Wanda Metropolitano. That said, at that point, Liverpool were on a remarkable run in Europe, booking their place in back-to-back finals.

As a spectacle, however, the game itself promised to have been more entertaining with two of Europe’s most iconic clubs competing for the illustrious title. Crucially, football is a sport that consists of many variables, and although Ziyech’s comments may appear brash, that same self-belief was fundamental in Ajax’s entertainment-fuelled run to the semis.

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