Ajax did it again on Tuesday, scoring another huge upset in the Champions League quarterfinals. The Dutch squad topped Italian giant Juventus 3-2 on aggregate, thanks to a 2-1 road win in Turin. That followed a 1-1 draw from the opening leg in Amsterdam.
That, of course, wasn’t Ajax’s first upset of this tournament as de Godenzonen knocked out three-time defending champion Real Madrid in the Round of 16.
Here’s everything you need to know about Ajax as the team moves on to the Champions League semifinals.
Donny van de Beek starred against Juventus
Donny van de Beek is a 21-year-old midfielder for Ajax and he was the star of the team’s 2-1 win Tuesday. He scored a goal to level the match 1-1 after Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus up early.
He later forced a brilliant save from Wojciech Szczesny and was a thorn in Juventus’ side all day.
Frenkie de Jong is the team’s young superstar
Frenkie de Jong is a 21-year-old midfielder for Ajax who will eventually be transferred to Barcelona this July for €75 million. A native of Arkel in the Netherlands, he’s a defensive midfielder with an incredible feel for the game, and next-level dribbling and passing ability.
He’s arguably the best player in the Dutch league right now and he will almost certainly be considered one of the best players in Europe when he’s on the big stage with Barcelona.
Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic are the team’s veteran leaders
Dusan Tadic arrived from Southampton before the 2018-19 season and has been an offensive force for Ajax. In 48 matches so far, Tadic has scored 32 goals.
Daley Blind returned to Ajax last summer after four seasons with Manchester United. He’s played in 42 matches for Ajax in his first year back with the club. The 29-year-old Amsterdam native began his career with Ajax, playing his first four-plus seasons with the club. His father, Danny Blind, starred for Ajax as a defender in the 80s and 90s.
It’s worth mentioning 26-year-old Hakim Ziyech here; he was named Dutch Footballer of the Year for the 2017-18 season, and has 19 goals in 39 matches this year.
Matthijs de Ligt is the team’s young defensive star
Matthijs de Ligt is yet another young player who stars for Ajax. The 19-year-old defender scored the decisive goal against Juventus but he’s been on radars around the world for a while. He was on the Eredivisie Team of the Year last season, and won the Golden Boy award in December of 2018, becoming the first defender to do so.
Thanks to his starring role for Ajax, de Ligt has been a transfer target of top European clubs for a while.
Ajax used to be a European power
Ajax was formerly a European power and the dominant team in the Eredivisie. From 1965 to 1985, the club won 12 league championships. Ajax also took home Champions League titles three-straight times, in 1971, 1972 and 1973. It won its fourth title in 1995 by beating A.C. Milan in the final.