S01E03: CL Final 1994/95, Ajax vs Milan

Three episodes in and we seem to have found the sweet spot: two and a half hours to cover a single game. Well and the season leading up to it.

Because this Ajax team was bonkers. Over the course of the 94/95 season they went unbeaten in their domestic league, only lost in extra time to Feyenoord in the Cup quarterfinals and stormrolled through Europe. For comparision: Ajax scored 106 goals in 34 league matches, Milan 53, exactly half. Our math is on point for this episode btw.

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In the lead-up to talking about the final we focus on Ajax. For more background on Milan feel free to go back to 92/93 and 93/94.

Here is a small taste of what this Ajax team was capable of:

Louis van Gaal was at the helm of the Dutch champions, his first engagement as a head coach. He had spent a few years as assistent manager to Leo Beenhakker.

Further reading: These Football Times covering van Gaal’s management philosophy while at Ajax.

What made Ajax so dangerous and succesful was a group of highly talented youngsters coming through the ranks at the same time rolled into an offensive-minded, high risk, high-tempo tactical system.

Further reading: Talking About Football breaking down Ajax’ tactical approach in the group games against Milan.

So we have the young up-and-commers going against the much older, more experienced veteran champions. Here’s the episode (as always you can download the mp3 from Soundcloud; or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher):

Protocol with minutes to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Intro (plugs for Facebook, Twitter)
  • 0:02:30 Culture re-cap for 1994/95 including a murderer’s row of films and an abysmal Wrestlemania main event
  • 0:13:30 Is there a curse of Tapie? / Another format re-design
  • 0:20:00 Qualification round feat. Galatasaray, Split, Rangers / run-down of groups
  • 0:29:00 Ajax background feat. Rinus Michels, Total football, Johan Cruyff
  • 0:38:50 Louis van Gaal, 52 games unbeaten / Ajax vs Milan in the 60s and 70s
  • 0:48:45 Quarterfinals: Ajax vs Split, Bayern vs Göteborg, Milan vs Benfica, Barca vs PSG
  • 1:05:00 Paris’ form going into Semi against Milan / Kouffour to blame for Bayern losing to Ajax?
  • 1:21:30 The final: venue, line-ups, referee fun facts / Age comparision: Ajax 24,72 vs Milan 28,27
  • 1:29:45 Ajax with the kick-off / Opening exchanges
  • 1:34:30 Ajax tactics, general set-up and formation / Milan getting frustrated quickly
  • 1:41:15 Ajax wing-play, vertical passing, movement (Is this a LvG team???)
  • 1:51:10 More urgency from Milan, chances / Desailly vs Litmanen, LvG vs the air
  • 2:00:30 Brilliant defence from Maldini / Milan sitting back / LvG brings Kanu and Kluivert, tactical changes and mindgames
  • 2:14:40 Kluivert achieves immortality at just 18 years of age
  • 2:22:15 Awards!

Finidi George was our pick for MOTM as most of Ajax offense went through his flank even though he was going up against Maldini.

Best hair went to Edwin van der Sar for his beautiful bowl cut. Bonus points for his awful jersey.

Lastly the match itself garnered a favorable rating and a recommendation to go back and re-watch it with an eye on Ajax’ tactics.

This is the complete match on Dailymotion: