Can Van Basten come back to haunt former club Ajax?
For all his accolades as a player, Marco van Basten has won nothing in management. During his one season in charge of Ajax, he failed to beat AZ Alkmaar, the side he now coaches.
What delightful irony it would be, then, if former Netherlands national boss Van Basten can get one over on his old side in an early kick-off on August 17th. It’s 9/4 on a home win for AZ against the Eredivisie champions, who start as 11/10 favourites for three points. Odds on a draw are 5/2.
Both Alkmaar and Ajax earned impressive victories, over Heracles Almelo and Chelsea’s feeder club Vitesse Arnhem respectively, on the opening weekend of the Dutch season, so this could be a high-scoring affair. A repeat of the 3-2 AZ win from last term is a tempting 28/1.
Van Basten has added Fulham academy graduate Muamer Tankovic to his attack to supplement USA striker Aron Johannsson, Alkmaar’s top scorer last term. This game comes too soon for the latter, but the Sweden cap netted on his competitive debut last time out and is 23/10 in the anytime market here, as well as a better 7/1 to get the last goal again.
Compatriot Viktor Elm scored the winner in this fixture last season, and is 7/2 to be on target once more against Ajax. Frank de Boer’s task for what remains of the transfer window is to keep versatile vice-captain Daley Blind at the Amsterdam giants, but interest from Manchester United could intensify if they cannot get alternative target Marcos Rojo.
Ajax have already lost former skipper Siem de Jong, but midfielder Lerin Duarte bagged a brace in a 4-0 romp in last term’s reverse fixture with AZ. It’s 14/5 he can score again and 18/1 he nets two or more. Denmark winger Lasse Schone, meanwhile, struck a double for De Boer in the opening fixture, and is 21/10 for a goal or 10/1 for a couple or better here.
This game will be anything but dull, so take odds of 8/15 on Alkmaar and Ajax both scoring.