Instagram is awash with inspirational quotes about how ‘there’s no such thing as losing, only learning‘ and that ‘sometimes you win, even when you lose‘.
It’s the type of waffle only seen on your aunt’s Facebook page or when Conor McGregor is trying to sell you his latest range of whiskey-infused jock straps.
But in Ajax’s case it actually rings true.
For 45 minutes, Ajax had Real Madrid sweating like a married man who’d ‘stumbled’ into the red light district.
Frenkie De Jong held his own in his first El Clasico audition since signing for Barcelona, Matthijs de Ligt carried the authority of a teenager becoming the youngest starting captain in a Champions League knockout game and Dusan Tadic showed the type of ability that makes you question why Southampton let him go for £10million.
Madrid’s experience, plus a VAR operator that’d spent too long in the coffee shops of Amsterdam prior to kick off, ensured Ajax left the Johan Cruyff Arena empty handed.
However- taking it back to Instagram- Ajax’s influence within football is such that even when they lose, they win.
At the exact moment Marco Asensio consigned Ajax to defeat, 371 miles away Spurs were celebrating their third goal against Borussia Dortmund.
North London might have been partying the night away in north-west London, but all three goals were made in Amsterdam.
Jan Vertonghen whipped in the type of cross only a centre-back reared at Ajax for nine years could produce for Son Heung-min’s opening goal.
Super Jan then summoned his inner Van Basten to volley past Roman Burki and double Spurs’ lead.
With Vertonghen having done his work for the evening, Christian Eriksen- winner of three consecutive Eredivisie titles with Ajax- was responsible for ensuring Fernando Llorente couldn’t miss Spurs’ third goal.
Eriksen’s match-winning ability to drop into pockets and switch the play was pivotal to exposing Dortmund’s full-backs, but we’ve come to expect nothing else from the man who was named both the Ajax Talent of the Future and Ajax Talent of the Year during his time in Amsterdam.
Vertonghen and Eriksen were joined in Spurs’ winning side by Toby Alderweireld who, like his fellow Belgian defender, was on Ajax’s books for nine years.
Including Davinson Sanchez, three fifths of the Spurs defence responsible for keeping a clean sheet against one of Europe’s most dangerous attacks spent at least 12 months at Ajax.
It’s not just Spurs. Ajax’s fingerprints can be seen all over the Champions League knockout stages.
Justin Kluivert came off the bench during Roma’s 2-1 win against Porto, while Kenny Tete may find himself marking Lionel Messi or Ousmane Dembele when Lyon face Barcelona.
Luis Suarez will be leading the attack for Barcelona, who will likely have Thomas Vermaelen and Jasper Cillessen on the bench. That trio have 18 years of Ajax experience between them, although only Vermaelen came through the academy.
The influence of Johan Cruyff and totaalvoetbal can be seen in everything Man City and Barcelona, the bookies’ favourites to win the Champions League, do both on and off a football pitch.
Even if Ajax don’t manage to overturn their first-leg deficit in Madrid, there’s likely to be a red and white tinge to the trophy.
Ajax never lose. Stick that on an Instagram quote in front of a sepia photo of Albert Einstein and watch the likes roll in.
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