2015/16 End of Season Update
Coming into the new year, we were top, undefeated and had only conceded 5 goals with a new formation. We started the new year with an awesome attacking display with a 7-2 win and conceded two sloppy late goals. It was okay, I didn't make much of it. A week later against Heerenveen, we lost our first game of the season. We played really well and have something like 25 shots, they go up the other end and score in the last minute. It was bad luck, I guess. After our first defeat, our heads went a tiny bit and defensively we weren't the same. Despite losing 4 games in the 15 league games, we still managed to keep a comfortable lead at the top and won it by 20 points. 1 point more than the previous season.
WE WON IT!!!
I'm not sure if it was my variation of tactics, players performing out their skin or just pure luck but somehow we won the Champions League. I should start off at Celtic, it could have been a different story if in the first half of the first leg they didn't hit the bar twice. We were all our the place and really didn't deserve to win the first leg. After coming through with a 3-0 win, the second leg was more filled with younger players as I knew they'd pull through.
Next up was Real Madrid. First half they were all over us and we couldn't even get out of our half. Not sure what happened to the team, they conceded 3 and should have been more. To put show how bad we were, we only had 19% possession. Somehow Zivkovic managed to score us a vital away goal in the second half and it gave me us a lifeline. Going into the second leg, we needed to score 2 goals to go through. It was at home and I was somewhat confident after our second half performance in the first leg. I changed things up to a more direct and attacking approach with a high tempo. What happened to us in the first leg, happened to them in the second. Within the first 15 minutes we had scored twice. It was level and we were going through but of course it was going to be a long 75 minutes. We held on and by half time they didn't even manage an attempt on goal. I kept the same approach as it was working and they couldn't even attack us and changed to a defensive striker and put on Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, he's not the perfect DF but it works at times. He made it 3-0 within minutes and by the time they put on more attackers, it was too late as we killed the game by retaining possession and putting on more defensive minded players.
Surely our luck would run out against Bayern Munich?
Not quite, luckily the first game was away and I enjoyed that as I thought we could snatch an away goal and build on that in the return leg. Both teams attacked and we both settled for a 2-2 draw. In the return leg, I used a 4141 formation with defensive wingers and just tried to keep the ball and have control of it. It seemed to have worked because they couldn't manage a shot on target all game. I was delighted and wasn't sure how they played so poorly.
The final was against Dortmund and I was determined to erase the European heartbreak of last season. We wouldn't get a better chance to win the trophy for ages if we don't win it this time. Dortmund were in awful form and had just finished their season in 8th place. I really wasn't sure how to approach the game, they still have Marco Reus and more pace in their forwards, usually I play with a high line but I dropped it a tad. Also kept one of my wingers as a DW to man mark Reus and to try and keep him as quite as possible. We took the lead in the 35th minute with a goal from loanee Deulofue. The immediately hit back with a goal from Kagawa 5 minutes later, going into half time 1-1 with both teams taking part in an intense tactically battle waiting on someone to make a mistake. It stayed like this right throughout the second half until the 87th minute when someone got past my CB Eder Alvarez Balanta and he tackled the forward from behind and got his second yellow. It went into extra time and my only thought was to keep it as a draw and try our luck in a penalty shootout. I took off one of my wingers and added another CB and also put on Sigþórsson (as a defensive forward again), in the 95th minute Deulofue ran through their midfield and pulled it to the side of my striker and heroically he finished it off. I was speechless, I did all i could to keep the lead but again, it didn't last long as Kagawa scored a header!! You could say they deserved to win as they did have 20 shots on goal compared to my 8. Oh it went onto penalties. Weirdly, I was confident in my players for some reason. They always seem to win penalty shootouts whenever they've had one. We took first and scored, they also scored theirs. In fact, both teams scored their first 3 penalties until the fourth. We scored our fourth and it was Mkhitaryan who missed his, all we had to do was score our fifth penalty and we were champions of Europe. Up stepped vice-captain Ricardo van Rhijn, calmly slotted it home and we did it. Taking it one game at a time, we managed to reach the final and won with 10 men. To do this so early on in my Ajax career is an awesome feeling.
Retained the domestic cup! Not much to say apart from we made hard work of FC Eindhoven and had to go onto penalties to reach the next stage. We took apart PSV with ease and were up against Zwolle in the final. All in all, I was delighted to have completed the season,winning all 4 competitions I was in.
I won't go into huge detail this time round with the actual games and how they played for the season but will do in my next 'End of Season' update. I'll just post SS of how they are at the end of my second season. You can compare them to previous SS if you like and see if they have improved or not.
Anwar Al Ghazi
Basic aims are to try and retain the league and cup as usual. Another Champions League run would be quality but I know that we won't have much luck on our sides next season, as we have done this time round. I'm just going to enjoy the success for this year and do my best again. As always, thanks for reading.