The 2-1 win sees FCG get the second half of the season off to a flying start
Ajax is the most successful football club in Dutch history, and last season reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, the top club competition in Europe. FC Groningen, on the other hand, have won one (1) major honour in the last 40 years, the KNVB cup in 2015.
So, it’s often a bit of a mis-match, especially when you consider that Ajax (from Amsterdam) are a bit of a talent factory for European football teams. Last season their two star players went to Juventus (Matthijs de Ligt) and Barcelona (Frenkie de Jong), whilst their current squad includes four first-team regulars for the Dutch national team.
There is also a bit of a rivalry between Ajax and FC Groningen, albeit a slightly mis-matched one, with Ajax representing the Randstad and FC Groningen flying the flag for the North.
FC Groningen haven’t won against Ajax since August 2014, and before this match sat in the bottom half of the Dutch football league (Eredivisie) going in to the winter break. September 2019’s match-up between FCG and Ajax ended 2-0 to Ajax.
So, as kick-off approached on Sunday, Ajax fans were jubilant. In the end though, Ajax only had three shots times on goal and it was telling that some of their best players were missing (including Hakim Ziyech and Daley Blind). Nevertheless, FC Groningen accessed huge reserves of effort to win the game.
Groningen’s reward for all their effort came after fifteen minutes. Kaj Sierhuis (who is on loan from Ajax at Groningen) put the ball past the Ajax keeper Varela, who is also a Portuguese international footballer. The defensive qualities of Groningen then emerged: with only 19 goals against, FC Groningen is one of the three best defensive teams in the Eredivisie.
When Ramon Pascal Lundqvist doubled the score after more than 50 minutes via the foot of Ajax defender Martinez, the 22,000 supporters at a packed-out Hitachi Capital Mobility stadium began to believe. Donny van de Beek struck for Ajax in the 72nd minute to make it 2-1, but FCG held on for the win.
FC Groningen go on to play semi-local rivals PEC Zwolle on February 1. They next play at home versus Vitesse Arnhem on February 8. Tickets to see FC Groningen play at the Hitachi Capital Mobility stadium can be bought through the clubs’ website, with some games having tickets available from 18 euros.
Interested in more about Northern Dutch football? Read our in-depth piece on the history of football in the North here.