Ajax player Jurriën Timber was eight years old when his opponent won the golden boot on Thursday evening as top scorer of the Bundesliga. Edin Dzeko had just celebrated his 24th birthday at the time. A jewel of a striker with a striking nickname: the Bosnian Diamond. As a little boy, he had seen Dzeko play him many times, Timber said when asked about their upcoming meeting.
Timber is no longer a boy. He is nineteen and therefore old enough to act this evening as the guard of the 1.93 meter long and sixteen years older top striker of AS Roma, who has about six hundred more professional matches to his name than Timber since who made his debut in Ajax 1 last year. .
Whether Dzeko was fit enough to play was still the question. But once his name was on Roma Roma ‘s line-up form, it was clear that the personal duels between him and Timber could be crucial to the question of which of the two clubs will soon make it to the Europa League semi-finals.
AS Roma still has the best credentials for this after the 1-2 victory in Amsterdam. Ajax was stronger in its own Arena, but took a second goal just before time, after Roma had already reached the same level due to a goalkeeper error by Kjell Scherpen. An expensive defeat, precisely because there could have been so much more in it. Ajax created plenty of opportunities and also now proved, with a young team, that it is reasonably stable in the European sub-top, even though the Italians took the loot.
Eighteen year olds
What’s good comes quickly, isn’t it? Timber had nodded in agreement in front of the RTL 7 microphone when he was asked that question this week. „That is a bit part of Ajax. If you get the chance and take it, it can go quickly. ”
Very fast, you could say. The recent seasons in which Ajax reached the final of the Europa League and just missed that of the Champions League, Timber still sat in front of the TV as a fan. And not only him. The breakthrough of his contemporaries Ryan Gravenberch and Devyne Rensch felt just as far away, while they too could count on a basic place against Roma. Watch them roll and you wouldn’t think they are both only eighteen.
What is good sometimes comes very quickly. Certainly under the leadership of Erik ten Hag, who has no objection to a young career in curbing the best forwards in Europe, as it turned out when he posted Matthijs de Ligt opposite Cristiano Ronaldo, and with success.
In a way, that is also the beauty of football: that age no longer plays a role in the long run, that a player like Timber can develop so quickly that he comes to play against footballers he admired in his younger years. Like Edin Dzeko, the Bosnian who is a hero in beautiful Rome, but learned to play football in one of the most devastated cities in Europe: Sarajevo.
Dzeko played football with wads of duct tape on squares where a bomb could fall at any moment. In fact, the story goes that one day his mother decided to keep him in, and that precisely that day his regular football spot was hit by a bomb. Don’t think about it, was Dzeko’s credo. All his goals are also for the fellow citizens who did not survive the war, the striker once said.
After successful periods at VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester City, Dzeko is now one of the more important players at Roma, who hopes to make it through this season with success in the Europa League, but struggled against Ajax in Amsterdam. Dzeko, who on average scores a goal every two matches for Roma, was hardly involved in the cover between Timber and Lisandro Martinez.
Missed penalty kick
Ajax played strong, had the best chances, but failed to extend its lead to 2-0. After Davy Klaassen’s 1-0, a well-played goal, Dusan Tadic got the best opportunity for the 2-0 from the spot, but the Serbian ran into the fists of Paú Lopez.
While Lopez kept his team going, a youngster made a mistake at Ajax. Goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen (21), third goalkeeper on paper after André Onana and Maarten Stekelenburg, missed a free kick by Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Bryan Brobbey and Anthony still had great opportunities on behalf of Ajax, but both attackers ran into goalkeeper Lopez, who kept Roma going. While Ajax insisted, he eventually fell on the other side, via Roger Ibanez: 1-2. Unexpected? They remain Italians.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of April 9, 2021
Sloppy Ajax unnecessarily loses to AS Roma in their own Arena
Source link Sloppy Ajax unnecessarily loses to AS Roma in their own Arena