Ajax U19 – Match Report vs. Atlético Madrid U19 03/03/20

Youth Ratings

1 – Ready for the first team
2 – Good, potential to be first team
3 – Decent, could make first team squad
4 – Decent potential, unlikely to make it to first team
5 – Unlikely to make first team

Ajax and Atlético faced each other in the round of 16 in the Youth League and in the end, Ajax won after penalties. Ajax played in a 4-3-3 formation which changed in possession to a 3-5-2 with Regeer standing next to Hansen often, while Atlético Madrid played in 4-1-4-1 formation that changed in possession to a 4-3-3. The Dutch giants failed to create a lot of chances because of the defensive discipline and quality by the Spaniards. Atlético caught Ajax a few times on the counter but did not manage to score.

Calvin Raatsie

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 09/02/2002
  • Current club: AFC Ajax under 19
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: right

Calvin Raatsie played as a goalkeeper in this match. He proved that he is very comfortable on the ball and that he likes to solve every situation by playing it out from the back rather than playing long passes. This is something that often goes very well, but in some situations he took too many risks in his passing, which luckily for Ajax did not lead to any threatening situations in front of goal.

The 18-year-old did well to claim nearly every ball through the air comfortably and did very well to be quick off his line when Atlético Madrid U19 played a through pass. However, once, he made the wrong decision by trying to claim the ball through the air when he could not reach the ball and this nearly led to a goal for Atlético Madrid. Raatsie showed that he has safe hands and that he is not bothered by long shots.

Rating: 3

Calvin Raatsie is one of the most talented goalkeepers from The Netherlands and certainly has the potential to make it to the first team in the long-term.

Neraysho Kasanwirjo

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 18/02/2002
  • Current club: AFC Ajax under 19
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: central defender
  • Secondary position: right-back
  • Preferred foot: right

Neraysho Kasanwirjo played as a right central defender in this match. The 18-year-old touched the ball a lot, as Ajax were in possession in the midfield third a lot and Ajax played a really high defensive line. This meant that the central defenders had to deal with a lot of space in their back, which sometimes got them into troubles as Kasanwirjo occasionally chose the wrong moments to step out of the defensive line.

In these situations, it was often the case that Kasanwirjo and Rensch were the only ones behind the ball as the rest of the team was outplayed by Atlético Madrid. However, in some of these situations, Kasanwirjo did well to step out, but in some of them, he timed his interception poorly and he got outplayed. This happened two or three times and he will learn to time his interception better over time.

Neraysho Kasanwirjo was very impressive in the 1-vs-1 duels with Rodrigo Riquelme as he always managed to recover possession, even though Rodrigo Riquelme is a very skilful player that has good changes of directions. Kasanwirjo is able to close gaps very quickly as he is pacey and has a good acceleration. Occasionally, he got dragged out of position by the striker.

On the ball, Kasanwirjo likes to play short passes towards Rensch, Llansana or Van Gelderen, but he is also able to progress the ball further up the pitch by playing a cross pass to Naci Ünüvar or Terrence Douglas on the left wing. He feels very comfortable on the ball, but in this match he had a few sloppy touches which slowed the build up play down a bit.

Rating – 2

I think that Devyne Rensch is more talented than Kasanwirjo, but the latter for sure has a lot of talent and potential to also make it to the first team of Ajax. It will be interesting to see how he develops at Jong Ajax and if he will play as a central defender or right-back for the club that plays in the second tier in Dutch football.

Devyne Rensch

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 18/01/2003
  • Current club: AFC Ajax under 19
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: central defender
  • Secondary position: defensive midfielder
  • Preferred foot: right

Devyne Rensch played as a left central defender and was arguably the best player of Ajax on the night. He was very dominant in the 1-on-1 duels, was outstanding on the ball and showed some good positioning to recover possession early on the opposition half. As mentioned above, Ajax played a very high defensive line which often got them into trouble when Atlético played out of the pressure.

In the 1-on-1 duels, Rensch did very well to stay on his feet and to aggressively intercept the ball. In the moments that he could not intercept the ball immediately, he kept calm and composed to wait for the moment where he could intercept the ball. When he nearly got dribbled past, he used his pace, acceleration and decent strength to recover possession. Also, he cleared the ball off the line once.

When Ajax lost possession, they tried to put very early pressure on Atlético and Devyne Rensch showed some very good positioning. For example, when Atlético got put under pressure on the (for Ajax) left side of the pitch, he would position himself more to the left to recover possession during the times that the ball got cleared down the line. Rensch often did very well to get in front of his opponent aggressively.

The Dutch defender managed to recover possession and intercept passes many times in this match and had an impressive defensive performance. On the ball, Rensch feels very comfortable as well. He keeps very calm when he got put under pressure and even in his own box, he kept calm and just played a short pass to Kasanwirjo, Kenneth Taylor or Terrence Douglas.

Besides that, Rensch showed good dribbling ability as he managed to make some progressive runs where he dribbled past a few players to progress to the final third.

Rating – 2

I would not be surprised if Devyne Rensch will train with the first team during pre-season and I think he could be of great service for the first team in 2021.

Terrence Douglas

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 14/09/2001
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: left-back
  • Preferred foot: left

Terrence Douglas played as a left-back in this match. He put pressure on the opposition early and was very aggressive in doing so. This often led to recovering possession quickly but sometimes led to him being dribbled past as well, which led to dangerous situations for Devyne Rensch and Neraysho Kasanwirjo, who solved this very well in the most cases. Douglas managed to win most physical duels as he has decent strength already.

In possession, he played very high up the pitch and he tried to create width. In reality, he did not get found too often and when he did get found, he played many passes backwards or sideways. When he did not get put under pressure that much, he sometimes played some good passes into the box which created some dangerous situations in front of goal. Douglas has a good first touch and showed decent pace and acceleration.

Rating – 4

It is in between 3 and 4. Douglas has developed well this season and even made his debut for Jong Ajax. Ajax have not had too many good left-backs in the past and it could well be that Douglas will become a back-up left-back in the future. Anass Salah-Eddine will always stay in front of Douglas as he is more well-rounded and talented.

Liam van Gelderen

Liam van Gelderen

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 23/03/2001
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: AZ (Y), Ajax (Y)
  • Position: right-back
  • Secondary position: central defender
  • Preferred foot: right

Liam van Gelderen played as a right-back in this match and he did quite well, even though he is certainly not the most talented player in this team. He did well to put pressure on the opponent aggressively, just like the rest of the team, and managed to recover possession quite often. Also, Liam van Gelderen showed good awareness at times.

He took up the right central defender position whenever Kasanwirjo got dragged out of position which was good. Occasionally, he did not work well together with the defensive line. In these situations, Van Gelderen got in front of Riquelme already when he thought that the pass was played, but the rest of the defensive line stayed where they were which meant that when Atlético played an over the top through pass, Riquelme was in space.

In reality, this happened only once but Kasanwirjo managed to recover this. Van Gelderen sometimes was too complacent in the aerial duels. He got beat by Medrano on two occasions because the latter wanted it more and went full in. In possession, Van Gelderen managed to combine well in the tight spaces with Regeer and Quinten Timber occasionally but he did not contribute to the attack that much.

Rating – 4

After switching from central defender to right-back, the 19-year-old has conquered a place in the starting line-up for Jong Ajax. However, as his contract expires in June and Dest and Mazraoui still play for Ajax, I think that he will leave. Van Gelderen is ready to be a squad player for a midtable team in the Eredivisie and could become a good player at that level.

Enric Llansana

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 12/04/2001
  • Current club: AFC Ajax under 19
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: defensive midfielder
  • Secondary position: central defender
  • Preferred foot: right

Enric Llansana is the captain of Ajax under 19 and played as a defensive midfielder. He got subbed off in the second half. The defensive midfielder has good positional awareness. He took up the left central defender spot when Rensch made a progressive run, he positioned himself well in the first phase of the build-up and managed to recover possession often thanks to a good positioning.

However, when he was in possession, I think that he needs to up his tempo a bit as he sometimes wasted a chance to play a progressive pass because he took his time to get the pass right. Llansana liked to play it sideways or backwards to one of the central defenders or Taylor, who positioned himself as the left central defender in possession.

Also, he sometimes loses his temper whenever the referee makes a wrong decision in his opinion. This led to a yellow card for him.

Rating – 3

I think that Llansana could already do well at Eredivisie level for a lowtable club, but he will play for Jong Ajax next season and it is likely that he gets a place in the starting line-up. I’m not sure if he will reach the first team of Ajax, but it is a fact that Ajax are in need of a good defensive midfielder.

Kenneth Taylor

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 16/05/2002
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: central midfielder
  • Secondary position: defensive midfielder
  • Preferred foot: both

Kenneth Taylor played as a left central midfielder in this match. In possession, he drifted wide to play as a third central defender and Taylor had an important role for Ajax in this match as he had the most touches and was the main player to perform the build-up play for the under 19’s of Ajax. He did this okay, even though he sometimes made the wrong decision.

Taylor mainly played short passes sideways or backwards, but also played some passes to either Ünüvar and Hansen when one of them dropped deep to receive in space between the lines. His short passing was top notch and he almost never got a pass wrong. He was allowed to take his time before he passed as Atlético were very careful with choosing their moments to put pressure.

This led to Taylor sometimes being frustrated and sometimes not being patient enough to wait for the right time to play a longer pass in behind to Regeer. Atlético dropped deep often and were disciplined to stay in position, which meant that Taylor had lots of time to think of his next pass. Sometimes Taylor rushed his through pass which always led to possession loss. The pass itself was not inaccurate, but it was simply covered by Atlético.

When he played a bit higher up the pitch, Kenneth Taylor showed that he is able to receive under pressure and that he has a good ball control, first touch and technique. He is able to turn the right way as he shows good awareness and can play very well in the tight spaces. Ajax’ qualities were seen sporadically when they combined in the tight spaces and Taylor often was part of this.

Also, Taylor showed that he has good on the ball acceleration and that he is able to dribble past opponents. In defence, Taylor positioned himself quite well often and he was aggressively trying to put pressure on Atlético. He recovered possession at times. When Douglas was putting pressure high up the pitch, Taylor did well to cover the runs of Quintana into the space on the right wing.

Rating – 2

Kenneth Taylor will most likely train with the first team during pre-season again and I think that he could take his chance, especially if Ajax do not sign a new midfielder this summer.

Quinten Timber

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 17/06/2001
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: Feyenoord (Y), Ajax (Y)
  • Position: central midfielder
  • Secondary position: right-back, right winger, defensive midfielder and left winger
  • Preferred foot: right

Quinten Timber played in a free role on the right wing against Atlético Madrid. The 18-year-old did well to move into space between the lines to be effective in the final third, but in my opinion he could have done more with the space he sometimes had. Atlético kept the lines close to each other, but sometimes there was some space that opened up and in these situations, Timber should have done more.

The versatile Dutchman switched to a role in midfield in the second half after Pinas got subbed on for Llansana. In this role, he had a bigger influence on the playing style of Ajax and he was more involved in the build-up play. This role suited him better than the free role on the right, as he is not the player that will create lots of chances.

He is very good at linking up with his teammates in the tight spaces, has a good technique and ball control and does not panic when he is being put under pressure. In defence, Quinten Timber impressed the most. Just like the others, he put pressure on Atlético aggressively, but he managed to make a difference and did not get dribbled past.

Rating – 3

As Liam van Gelderen will most likely leave Ajax and there is no other right-back playing for Jong Ajax at the moment, I think that it could make a lot of sense to try Quinten Timber in that position. In other positions, he is not good enough to play for the first team of Ajax as there is a lot of competition in these positions. Maybe he could come to fruition in the right-back position.

Youri Regeer

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 16
  • Date of birth: 18/08/2003
  • Current club: AFC Ajax under 19
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: central midfielder
  • Secondary position: attacking midfielder and defensive midfielder
  • Preferred foot: right

Youri Regeer played as the most attacking midfielder for Ajax on paper, but in reality he stood next to Sontje Hansen most of the times. He did well, but often was not found. On the ball, he did well to link up with his teammates and played some good one-two’s. He showed good ball control and technique just like all other Ajax players which was very useful in this match.

However, I think that he should be more involved in the build-up play and have more variation in his play. He made some very good runs in behind, but as he always did this, his run was often covered by one of Atlético’s defenders. When he received the ball, he showed that he has good passing ability and that he would be capable of playing a bit deeper than he did.

Even though he is only 16 years old, he won most of his aerial duels and physical duels against the more experienced defenders and midfielders of Atlético Madrid. Especially Ferreras got beat often in the duels by one of the Ajax players. In the final third, Regeer sometimes lacked awareness as he did not spot his teammate who had a better chance of scoring. This happened two times.

In the first situation, Regeer progressed the ball up the pitch and he was in some space. Some Ajax players made a good run and were in space to possibly get into a 1-on-1 situation with the goalie, but Regeer decided to take a shot himself, which led to a lot of frustration of his teammates. In the second situation, he decided to shoot himself when a ball was crossed into the box while Ünüvar had a much bigger chance to score.

Rating – 2

I think that Regeer has certain qualities that not a lot of players have and that he could play very well as one of the ‘8s’ in a three-man-midfield with a sole defensive midfielder. He has the potential to play for the first team of Ajax.

Naci Ünüvar

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 16
  • Date of birth: 13/06/2003
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: left winger
  • Secondary position: attacking midfielder
  • Preferred foot: right

Naci Ünüvar played in a free role on the left and even though it is clear that he is one of the, if not the, biggest talent in this team, he slightly disappointed in this match. In possession, he had a lot of variation in his play and he roamed on the left side of the pitch a lot. He either stayed close to the sideline, played in the halfspaces in the final third or dropped deep to support the build-up.

When he stayed close to the sideline and received the pass, he was able to go on the inside but also go on the outside and he often got past his opponent. Even when he was in physical duels, he did very well to stay on his feet and to be able to keep in possession. He may be quite small (around 1,70), but he still is able to compete in physical duels.

Sometimes he played in the halfspaces and in this position, Ünüvar is very dangerous normally. He has an outstanding vision and certainly the ability to find players like Regeer and Hansen when they make a run in behind. However, he did receive in a bit of space that much and often got covered well by Atlético Madrid. When he did have a little bit of space, he had some sloppy first touches which let him down in this match.

He still showed some incredible through passes with the outside of his boot which were outstanding as they almost every time were accurate and very effective. Ünüvar always found an option forward and has good on the ball acceleration. He stands out in the tight spaces as well as he is very hard to dispossess and can link up very well with his teammates.

When he dropped deeper, he received in more space and in these situations he liked to spread the play by playing a cross pass towards the right side of the pitch. Also, he could link up with players like Hansen, Q. Timber, Regeer and Taylor in the tight spaces well to progress higher up the pitch. Out of possession, he did quite well to recover possession at times.

Rating – 2

I am tempted to say that he is ready for the first team of Ajax as he did very well when playing with the first team in the friendlies and I think that he is good enough to get more minutes regularly next season. He showed in Jong Ajax that he adapts to the physicality of senior football very well and that he possibly already is ready to play at a higher level than the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.

Sontje Hansen

LEEUWARDEN, 13-12-2019, Cambuur Stadium, season 2019 / 2020, Dutch Football Keuken kampioen divisie, Jong Ajax player Sontje Hansen during the match Cambuur Leeuwarden – Jong Ajax.

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 18/05/2002
  • Current club: Jong Ajax
  • Career: Ajax (Y)
  • Position: striker
  • Secondary position: right winger and left winger
  • Preferred foot: right

Sontje Hansen played as a striker in this match and had a rather quiet match. He did not do enough out of possession to get into space or to get into possession and only occasionally dropped deeper to support the build-up or made a run in behind. The top scorer of the U17 World Cup in 2019 showed glimpses of his talent, but overall he can do much better.

During the times that he was actively trying to get into possession, he showed that his physique already is quite good and that he can use his body well to keep in possession. For example, he liked to occasionally put his body between the opponent and the ball and accelerate on the ball to create space for himself. He only did this a few times in this match though.

Despite being passive in certain situations, he sometimes got into space well a few times and he could receive in space to eventually turn and show his good dribbling ability. In the end, I think he should have been a bit more active and have more variation in his play. He could have tried to disorganize the defence of Atléti more by making more runs in behind and by dropping deeper often.

Rating – 2

Sontje Hansen is one of the biggest talents in The Netherlands and will certainly make it at Ajax. I think that he could be involved more in the first team of Ajax in 2021, but it will be tough for him to make it into the starting line-up quickly as there is a lot of competition in his position.

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