Soccer / feyenoord
Green and White Smoke, Key to Success?
Source: FR12 To be honest, of course, I do not know that. However, the picture above was taken last Sunday just before the kick-off of the Feyenoord-Ajax match. It was not just an afternoon, but the afternoon of the Classic, the match between the two most talked-about and best performing clubs in the history of Dutch football. Yes, of course, PSV has also done a lot in that history, but everyone in the Netherlands (even the PSV fans) agrees. Within the Dutch borders there simply is nothing like a confrontation between Feyenoord and Ajax. The green-white smoke on the photo was the foretaste of what would come. It was the taste of what would eventually become one of the most memorable matches in my life. For those who do not know, the flag of Rotterdam is green-white-green, and that is exactly what the fans wanted to portray. Of course, I have seen a Feyenoord victory over Ajax, several times, fortunately, but mostly it is Ajax that wins, also in Rotterdam. In a very distant past, there have also been extremely large results. On November 29, 1964, for instance, when a score of no less than 9-4 was put on the scoreboard. However, it took another thirteen years and four months before I was born. Until last Sunday the two most memorable victories against Ajax were in 1995 and 2012. Mike Obiku, source: Voetbal International In 1995, Feyenoord played in the semi-finals of the KNVB Cup in Amsterdam. The match ended in a draw and extra time had to be played. Ajax had won everything that could be won that season. By that I mean everything. They had become unbeaten Eredivisie champions and they had already defeated AC Milan in the final of the Champions League. Ajax lost that season once, yes, that semi-final match against Feyenoord in Amsterdam. During extra time, striker Mike Obiku picked up the ball. Obiku was not such a good footballer at all but was very popular with the Feyenoord supporters. After he struggled his way through the Ajax defense and bounced the ball into the goal, he grew into a true Feyenoord legend. That goal was even more special than it actually seems, as the sudden death, or golden goal rule applied. At the moment Okibu scored it was over immediately, Feyenoord won the match and qualified for the final of the cup, which would eventually be won against FC Volendam. 2 SCR for the first person to identify one or both other players on the picture above. 2 SCR for the first person to identify one or both other players on the picture above. 8 SCR if you are the first to identify all four of them. In 2012 I was in London with a few friends. We visited the FA Cup match between Millwall FC and Southampton FC at The Den. A day later, however, Feyenoord-Ajax was on the program. As true fans, we obviously wanted to see that match somewhere, but that was not so easy at the time. Yet we managed to find a bar through the internet where they would broadcast this match. This was indeed the case and Feyenoord eventually won the match 4-2, including a hat trick from John Guidetti. Guidetti then scored three hat-tricks in three consecutive matches and thus also became a phenomenon for Feyenoord fans. John Guidetti, source: FR12 Back to Sunday, because that's what it's all about. The attendance is always something magical to see. The stadium is truly one of the football temples in Europe. In total, eleven European finals were played here. Two times the European Cup I (Champions League), six times the European Cup II (Cup Winners' Cup), two times the UEFA Cup and also the final of UEFA Euro 2000. I attended the 1997 Cup Winners' Cup final between FC Barcelona and Paris-Saint Germain. Apart from the green and white smoke, a huge banner was unveiled that put the port of Rotterdam on display. The atmosphere was very tense from the start. It was a beautiful sight, and beforehand the talks were mainly about how Robin van Persie would play his last Classic in the Eredivisie. The only thing that did not cooperate with creating a nice football afternoon was the weather. It had been raining all day, and the temperature was pretty cold. However, it was dry during the start of the match. Source: NOS Source: NOS Feyenoord played with Kenneth Vermeer in goal, as Justin Bijlow is still injured. The defense consisted of Jeremiah St. Juste, Eric Botteghin, Sven van Beek and Calvin Verdonk. Van Beek played because manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst had left out usual defender Jan-Arie van der Heijden. In midfield Jordy Clasie, Jens Toornstra and Tonny Vilhena played, while Steven Berghuis, Robin van Persie and Sam Larsson were the forwards allowed to start. This meant that striker Nicolai Jørgensen started on the bench. Ajax started with André Onana in goal. The defenders were Noussair Mazraoui, Matthijs de Ligt, debutant Lisandro Magallán, and Daley Blind. Nicolás Tagliafico, the usual left back was injured, but that gave new signing Magallán the chance to start the match. The midfield consisted of Lasse Schöne, Donny van de Beek and the man who was sold for 86 million to FC Barcelona this week, Frenkie de Jong. In front, the trio Hakim Ziyech, Kasper Dolberg, and Dusan Tadic was present. Source: NOS Source: NOS Ajax started very well with Dolberg, who already shot on target towards Kenneth Vermeer in the second minute. The goalkeeper was not surprised and saved the shot. In the seventh minute, Dolberg came in a dangerous position again. This time he was brought down by Eric Botteghin. Lasse Schöne has opened the score from a direct free kick several times in the past, including in the Classic, last year in Amsterdam. The free kick that Dolberg received was in a dangerous spot. An excellent opportunity for Schöne to show what he can do. I could already foresee what was going to happen, and my suspicion was confirmed when he sent the ball beautifully (that must be said), with a curve over the wall into the goal of Kenneth Vermeer who was nailed to the ground. Source: FR12 The Kuip was silent for a moment. Having the rest of the season so far in mind, Ajax was, of course, the favorite, but it is so annoying to see your club a goal down immediately within a few minutes off the start. Less than a minute later, Sven van Beek was put under pressure in his own penalty box and he accidentally played the ball straight into the feet of Kasper Dolberg. Dolberg took control, but fortunately (for me) his shot was blocked by Botteghin, otherwise it would have been 0-2 very quickly. Ajax also played better in the following minutes and got a number of smaller opportunities. The fans got a little bit of a feeling that players did not fully go for it and increased the volume of support and demanded blood, sweat and, tears from the players. In the fifteenth minute, the fans got what they asked for almost immediately. After a nice combination between Robin van Persie and Steven Berghuis, the ball was placed into the penalty area. Jens Toornstra caught the ball out of the air just before Jeremiah St. Juste could shoot the ball. Toornstra turned, twisted and shot the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Onana into the net, it was 1-1 very quickly. Source: Fox Sports From that moment on, Feyenoord took the upper hand and the frustration and annoyance at Ajax started to become clear. After half an hour of playing, Sam Larsson picked up the ball and played it to Robin van Persie. Both players played the ball a few times back and forth over a large space, after which Van Persie saw Jens Toornstra with space on the right side. The ball landed in his feet after which he immediately passed the ball to Steven Berghuis who tapped the ball under Onana and brought the score to 2-1 in favor of Feyenoord. Source: De Gelderlander It has to be said, Ajax did not give up at that stage of the match and showed a lot of resilience. Shortly after the 2-1, Hakim Ziyech moved forward on the right. He tried to get rid of Sven van Beek and shoot on target, but his shot was blocked. The loose ball came in front of Donny van de Beek's feet, but his shot was blocked by Kenneth Vermeer. Then the ball landed again at the feet of Ziyech, who fired the ball hard into the goal to make it 2-2. Now I am not a neutral supporter, but had I been, then I had absolutely enjoyed that first 33 minutes. I did that of course, but I would have been even better without those two Ajax goals, of course. The game really went back and forth at a very high tempo. Less than a minute after the score was brought to 2-2, Berghuis gave a pass to Larsson, who completely ran out Mazraoui and thus got the ball in an excellent opportunity to make it 3-2. His shot, however, went right along the wrong side of the post. A few minutes later, Donny van de Beek crossed the ball towards Ziyech, but again Sven van Beek managed to block his shot. A minute later, Jens Toornstra went past Matthijs de Ligt via a useful trick and sprinted him out to give a perfect pass to Robin van Persie who was completely free in front of Onana. Van Persie, of course, was devastating and shot the 3-2 in the goal just before half time. Another chance in the first half almost led to the 4-2, but Sam Larsson stumbled on Onana, who could still stop the ball with a little bit of luck, so the score was 3-2 at half time. Source: Le Soir The second half started off as spectacular as the first. After a few minutes, Calvin Verdonk (who played an excellent match in defense) sent Tonny Vilhena away. His shot seemed to hit the target but went just wide into the stands. The most beautiful goal of the afternoon fell in the 56th minute. Sam Larsson picked up the ball, just onto the Ajax half of the pitch and gave a nice pass all the way to the other side towards Steven Berghuis. Berghuis controlled the ball, saw Robin van Persie completely free and gave a brilliant pass on the same Van Persie, who finished the ball in his way full of class into Onana's goal. Now it was clear that this was Robin van Persie's day. He felt like that himself as well and walked towards the fans dancing to celebrate the party with them. This immediately reminded me of that game in which John Guidetti made a hat-trick and also celebrated a party with the fans after scoring his third goal that match. Source: Best World News Ajax was totally frustrated and despondent. The only one who had a little bit of energy in his body was Hakim Ziyech, who shot the ball hard on the post from a large distance. Apart from that, Ajax would no longer be dangerous in front of Kenneth Vermeer's goal for the rest of the game. Would this then again be a pleasant 4-2 victory, just like in 2012, or could this be surpassed? Berghuis got at least a good chance, but Onana parried that ball. A little more than ten minutes after Van Persie's second goal, he was substituted by Giovanni van Bronckhorst. A round of applause in the 67th minute, as he is unable to play full matches, mainly due to his age in combination with his fitness. He was replaced by Nicolai Jørgensen. Another Feyenoord legend, Dirk Kuyt, looked satisfied and was clapping from the stands. Ridgeciano Haps also came on, after being injured for more than half a year. Immediately after coming on, he went into Frenkie de Jong with determination and passion, capturing the ball. It was immediately clear that Haps has no fitness problems anymore. Haps placed the ball into the feet of the man of the match, Jens Toornstra, who kept on running forward like he had done all match long. Toornstra crossed the ball and ended up at the feet of Vilhena just after passing by Jørgensen who nearly missed out on a shot himself. Vilhena knew what to do with that ball and scored the 5-2. He ran towards the fans, jumped over the billboards and started to intensely celebrate with a group of fans. Some other players shared in the joy that took place there. Source: Voetbal Primeur It was now raining very hard, and the faces of the Ajax players were full of negative emotions. About eight minutes before the end of the match, it was time for the next substitution. Steven Berghuis was taken off the field and replaced by Yassin Ayoub. Ayoub came over from FC Utrecht last summer, is very talented, but did not play many minutes for Feyenoord this season. In this match, however, he immediately added value. A bit like Haps, he immediately started after his entrance to the pitch and conquered the ball. He then gave it to Jørgensen who (being a striker) tried to get to score, but his shot was blocked. Jørgensen held possession after the blocked shot and pushed the ball directly back to Ayoub. Ayoub shot and the ball went under Onana again in the net, 6-2. Source: Brabants Dagblad Ayoub showed to be very happy with this goal and ran full of emotion towards the corner flag to lash over onto the pitch, followed by a firm fist onto the grass. The other players came towards him, full of joy and a true folk party was going on in the stadium. With every goal the stadium vibrates to its foundations and during that match it happened six times! Where many people expected a big win for Ajax, it became a completely different match and Feyenoord beat Ajax with a big margin. In February there will be another match between these two teams. Just like in 1995, it is the semi-final of the KNVB Cup. This time the match will take place in Rotterdam instead of in Amsterdam. Actually, that game is slightly more important than this league game, but every victory against arch-rival Ajax tastes sweet, especially knowing that due to this win their chances of winning the league are reduced massively. Hey Barcelona, here's your 86 million euro signing :) Source: NOS Thank you for reading, and if you want to see the highlights, here is the video. Hopefully, I could convey the emotion of the game well enough.