In the section “The match of” Ajax Showtime regularly analyzes one Ajax song during a match of the team from Amsterdam. In part 7: The competition of Hakim Ziyech visiting Chelsea.
Hakim Ziyech is working on his final months as an Ajax player. The midfielder will move to Chelsea next summer and it is very likely that he largely earned that transfer on 5 November 2019, during Chelsea – Ajax. A reconstruction of the enchanting gala performance that Ziyech gave away on Stamford Bridge that Tuesday evening.
Although Chelsea – Ajax will mainly be remembered as the match of the arbitrary errors that, in retrospect, cost Ajax a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League, Chelsea – Ajax was also the match where the Ajax puzzle of trainer Erik ten Hag really fell together for the first time this season. With Donny van de Beek alongside Lisandro Martínez and Ziyech as the attacking midfielder for this pair, Ten Hag dared to take risks in his line-up and opted for an enormous amount of footballing power.
For the aforementioned midfield, the line of attack was formed by David Neres, Dusan Tadić and Quincy Promes. With these agile attackers, who were wonderfully nourished by Ziyech for seventy minutes, Ajax footballed itself to a comfortable 1-4 lead in London. After red cards for Daley Blind and Joël Veltman, things went wrong and Chelsea returned to 4-4. However, the business card that Ziyech issued during this draw cannot be forgotten.
Absolute game distributor
The Moroccan international scatters a visit to Chelsea with passes. Ziyech sends one fine ball after the other from the ashes of the field and creates an enormous amount of threat. In the ninth minute, the left leg really shows its qualities for the first time, when he sees Neres making a running action in an instant and then serving the Brazilian with a perfect pass.
Ziyech serves the running Neres with a masterful ball. The Brazilian’s ball jumps a little too far from his foot, which means that the perfect pass from Ziyech does not present any immediate danger.
The complex ball on Neres is the starting signal for the unleashing of Ziyech. In the tumultuous opening phase, in which both Ajax and Chelsea score already in the first five minutes, the creative is still rarely in the game. But after just under ten minutes, Ziyech is increasingly attracting the Ajax game. The pass on Neres, but also the passes on Noussair Mazraoui, Promes and Van de Beek below, symbolize Ziyech’s qualities as a game distributor. With the gaze constantly facing forwards, Ziyech immediately threatens Chelsea in almost all his ball contacts.
Shortly after his pass on Neres, Ziyech played the ball beautifully across the width of the field to Mazraoui. The pass is similar to that on Nicolás Tagliafico from a year earlier in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.
Mazraoui controls the ball well and has plenty of space on the right side of the field.
After a dribble by Mazraoui, Ziyech comes in possession of the field. He sees Promes immediately start sprinting and puts the attacker through nicely between Chelsea defenders Kurt Zouma and the not in focus Fikayo Tomori. Goalkeeper Kepa, however, is alert and can prevent Promes from gaining possession of the ball in a very promising position.
Another minute later, after a throw-in, Ziyech beautifully plays Van de Beek between two Chelsea players in his feet. A nice ball, after which Ajax can attack on the right side of the field.
The above Ziyech passes are beautiful and showcase its class. But because Ziyech’s wonderful passes also have a bizarre high return, the Ajax player really only expresses his stamp on the Champions League match at Chelsea. Ziyech is directly involved in three (!) Of those four Ajax goals at Stamford Bridge. Only in the opening goal of the team from Amsterdam, where Tammy Abraham unluckily incorporated a sharp free kick from Promes into his own goal, does Ziyech have no share. In the 1-2, the Moroccan international provides the assist, the 1-3 he makes masterfully with some help from Kepa himself and in the 1-4 Ziyech serves Van de Beek with a tight cross. A much greater impact is almost unthinkable in the more than seventy minutes that Ziyech is standing on the field near Chelsea.
The genius of the above assist at Promes needs little explanation. With a magnificent kick, Ziyech shows eight Chelsea players and gives Promes the chance to make it 1-2. It is the birth of the “connection” between Ziyech and Promes.
Ziyech’s matchless assist from a different perspective. At the top of the screen, Promes is already asking for the ball that Ziyech will send with great feeling a fraction later.
Just as impressive as his assist on Promes is the way Ziyech hits the 1-3 after 34 minutes. With all the feeling that he has in his left leg, the Ajax player curls the ball to the far corner. Through the inside of the pole and the head of Kepa the beautiful 1-3 comes in.
The 1-3 from a different point of view. Actually it is not possible at all from this place, but Ziyech manages to score anyway.
The fact that Ziyech also introduces the 1-4 in the difficult phase after the break is the figurative cherry on the cake that is his blistering performance. Ajax is pushed back considerably by Chelsea after the break, but after the above pass by Ziyech, Van de Beek provides the Amsterdammers with the necessary air by making it into the counter 1-4.
Rest point in possession of the ball
In addition to Ziyech’s decisive moments and other beautiful passes, he is also important as a resting point in possession of the ball when visiting Chelsea. When Ajax is under pressure or other Ajax players do not have a good solution, they can almost always get rid of the ball at Ziyech. The left leg positions itself well and then moves the game with business-wide applications. Although these balls sometimes seem simple, Ziyech always moves the game excellently into space and with these passes he ensures that putting pressure on Chelsea does not have the desired effect for Londoners (read: Ajax’s loss of ball).
Ziyech is in control of the ball against Chelsea Ajax. With a few good balls across the width of the field, he ensures that the team from Amsterdam plays out under the sometimes high pressure of Chelsea.
Just as in the previous situation, Ziyech is also relocating the game to the left side of the field, where Ajax can attack via the released Tagliafico.
Ziyech plays one of his best matches for Ajax on a visit to Chelsea and excels, until he is replaced in the 72nd minute, with two sublime assists, an unparalleled goal and some fine passes. The midfielder is the key to attacks, something that Ajax often does in London right down to the red cards – but even afterwards. Chelsea coach Frank Lampard has been able to see at close quarters what specific qualities Ziyech has and will, after Chelsea – Ajax, be completely convinced of the fantastic football player that Ziyech is.
Now that Chelsea will be contracting the creative for at least forty million euros, it is certain that he will finish his home games at Stamford Bridge next season. If Ziyech always comes close to the level he achieved in this stadium on November 5, 2019, the Ajax player will undoubtedly also grow at Chelsea to be the man around whom the attack game revolves.
Read more ‘The competition of’:
Part 1: The value of Álvarez in Ajax midfield
Part 2: Why Ten Hag chooses Veltman in the center
Part 3: How Van de Beek filled in the 8th position
Part 4: Why Mazraoui could charm Ten Hag
Part 5: Why Tadić couldn’t make the difference against Valencia
Part 6: This is how ‘director’ Eiting left his mark on PSV
Do you think Van de Beek scores and Ajax wins over RKC Waalwijk? Bet and get 2.20 times your bet back!