Creative Soccer Culture

Framed #135 | Juventus v Ajax

Check the script, this was not how it was supposed to play out… Turin was on tenterhooks for a night when Juventus were expected to progress to the semi final of the Champions League. But their youthful opponents, Ajax, had other ideas. This was one we couldn’t miss and it didn’t disappoint as the latest fixture in our ‘Framed’ series.

Branded plucky over-achievers following their giant slaying efforts in the last 16 against the history making Real Madrid side that had won the last three Champions League tournaments in a row, Ajax’s fun was due to end when they were drawn against the experienced heads of Juventus, led by the Champions League’s all-time top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo. No way they were going to progress any further, right? Luck gets you so far, and it had been fun while it lasted…

The exciting young Ajax side arrived in the hostile environment of the Allianz Stadium with the tough task of needing a positive result against Juventus following the 1-1 draw in the first leg. Sure enough, things got off to the expected start, that man Ronaldo popping up with a free header from a corner. After some VAR faff, it was advantage Juve...


But Ajax weren’t done. This is a team that has thrilled neutrals with their exciting and dynamic play so far this season. Donny van de Beek made things very interesting 10 minutes before half time, breaking an uncharacteristically sloppy Juventus back line and slotting home. Game on. 

The youngest side to reach the knockout stage of this year’s tournament with an average age of 24 – which would have been 15-and-a-half had Klaas Jan Huntelaar not come on for the last five minutes – Ajax’s youthful exuberance was typified by 19 year old captain Matthijs de Ligt. It’d be a cliche to say his performance defied his years, but what were you doing when you were that age? de Ligt was leading his side in a Champions League quarter final and scoring the winning goal that saw the Dutch side into the semi final for good measure. 

Turin silenced. Ronaldo = CTRL + Alt + de Ligt-ed. Script well and truly torn up. The Ajax boys had kicked over the Old Lady and booked their first semi final spot in 22 years.

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Photography by Giacomo Cosua for SoccerBible.


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