AMSTERDAM - (lr) Dusan Tadic of Ajax, David Neres of Ajax, Davy Klaassen or Ajax celebrate the 2-0 during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax and SC Heerenveen in the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 18, 2020 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ANP MAURICE VAN STEEN

Ajax gear up for Liverpool with 5-goal win – as familiar face gets hat-trick of assists

With Liverpool due to host Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday night, they come up against a side in imperious form in the Eredivisie, having just won 5-0.

It is safe to say that Ajax have a monopoly over the Dutch top flight, winning six of the past 10 titles including each of the last three.

They have not often been able to translate that success to Europe, however, bowing out of the group stage in two of the past three seasons and in the round of 16 last time out.

In fact, the only time in the past 20 years they have made it beyond the last 16 was in 2018/19, when they suffered a last-minute defeat to Tottenham in the semi-finals, ahead of Liverpool’s triumph in Madrid.

Under new management in Alfred Schreuder, though, they will be looking to inflict a second straight defeat on the Reds in Group A, when they visit Anfield on Tuesday.

The game is still expected to go ahead despite recent postponements in the UK due to the Queen’s passing, and Ajax will arrive on Merseyside in excellent form.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Ajax’s Daley Blind (R) and Davy Klaassen before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 to win the group and progress to the Round of 16. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Saturday evening brought their seventh straight win in all competitions and, securing a 5-0 victory over SC Heerenveen, their fifth consecutive clean sheet.

Schreuder made a single change from the 4-0 thrashing of Rangers in the opening game of the Champions League, with Davy Klaassen coming in for Steven Berghuis in a three-man midfield.

It was Klaassen who opened the scoring, heading home from close range following Dusan Tadic’s cutback and cross, with the ex-Southampton playmaker also setting up the second as Kenneth Taylor curled home a clever free-kick routine.

Tadic’s corner caused the trouble that led to Ajax’s third, too, with striker Mohammed Kudus eventually turning and firing home in the throng.

Kudus made it 4-0 soon after, as Jorge Sanchez broke through and laid the ball across the face of goal for a simple finish, before Tadic got his third assist of the night.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Ajax's captain Dušan Tadic during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 to win the group and progress to the Round of 16. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was arguably his finest, too, with a deft pass for Brian Brobbey showcasing his ability to cut through defences at will.

Liverpool are, of course, familiar with Tadic from his time in the Premier League, but he has stepped up a gear since leaving Southampton for Ajax in 2018.

Wearing the captain’s armband, the 33-year-old pulls the strings for the Amsterdam club, and Jurgen Klopp‘s backroom will be keeping a close eye on his game in the buildup to Tuesday’s clash.

Ajax XI vs. SC Heereveen: Pasveer; Rensch (Sanchez 46′), Timber, Bassey, Blind; Alvarez (Brobbey 60′), Klaassen, Taylor (Berghuis 67′); Tadic, Bergwijn (Grillitsch 60′), Kudus (Ocampos 72′)

Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Kaplan, Gorter, Lucca, Baas, Magallan