Today is the clash between Ajax and Chelsea. When the Champions League draw was finished, this was the match that everyone looks out for the most. Ajax as last year’s semi-finalist in the Champions League and Chelsea as the winner of the Europa League.
A lot has changed since last season. Ajax lost the golden boys Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and Mathijs de Ligt to Juventus and Chelsea said goodbye to their playmaker Eden Hazard. It will be a great test for both teams and a win means a big step towards the knock-out stage.
Former Ajax and Chelsea players Jesper Grønkjær and Mario Melchiot were interviewed by Ajax Life ahead of the game between the Dutch side and Chelsea. The Danish winger will be present at both matches but is in doubt who he will be supporting. “I don’t have a favorite in this match. I will be supporting the team that plays the most attractive football”, said Grønkjær, who played with current Chelsea-manager Frank Lampard.
“When I played at Chelsea, Lampard was a young talent. Although he wasn’t the best talent in the team, his work rate and willing to win was outstanding. Now he’s a manager he asks the same spirit from the players in his team. He wants to play attacking and dominant football.”
When Ajax Life asks the Dane about the chances of Ajax, he begins about last year. “Last season, Ajax was relatively unknown in the Champions League and the big surprise. That will be different this season and that could be a disadvantage for them. Nonetheless, I give Ajax a good chance to win the game. They are good at pressing their opponents to their own half and most of the time they create a lot of chances”, thus Grønkjær. “It will be tough for Chelsea. I think they are going for a physical battle but will not park the bus. Chelsea has too many quality players for playing a system like that.”
For Mario Melchiot it is a hard choice as well if he has to choose between Ajax and Chelsea. “When I played for Ajax, I felt the love from the fans. I thought by myself, it can’t get better than this. Until I came to England”, said the wingback in Ajax Life. “When I played at the Johan Cruyff Arena I could hear my teammates coaching. In England, that was unthinkable due to the noise coming from the stands.”
Melchiot has a tactical analysis when it comes to the coming match. “The new Chelsea-manager Frank Lampard doesn’t play typical English football. He wants to play differently. A system with high pressure and players who put a lot of energy in their game”, said the former defender, who sees a flaw in the system. “If the spaces between the lines become too big, Ajax can play its way out of the pressure football. I think that both teams are equal, but in the attacking style of play, Ajax is one step further than the London side.”
There is one player that can be a key player for Ajax against Chelsea thinks Melchiot. “If Dusan Tadic drops himself and plays between the defense and midfield, Ajax can really hurt Chelsea. Where is the weakness of Chelsea? Exactly, in the center. So that would be the place where Ajax should strike.”
Melchiot doesn’t want to choose sides when it comes to supporting one of the teams “I have a lot of good memories at both clubs. So why should I choose between these two wonderful clubs”, ended the right wingback.