April 16, 2022 – Steven Berghuis is hoping to win his first grand prize as an Ajax player on Sunday night. The team from Amsterdam meets PSV in the cup final. They will certainly want to play the pain of being eliminated from the Champions League a bit. Although the loss to Benfica Amsterdam hit hard, Berghuis continues to follow the multi-billion dollar ball with keen interest.
After six wins in the group stage, Ajax looked set for another successful season in Europe. Where the team from Amsterdam narrowly qualified for the final of the Champions League in 2019, after the 4-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in October there was even talk of winning the final of the billion-dollar ball. But it didn’t get that far. Ajax found their Waterloo in the round of 16. Although Erik ten Hag’s side appeared to have a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals against Benfica, things went awry against the Portuguese.
Despite this, Berghuis has been sitting in front of the TV for the past few weeks to follow Benfica’s actions in the Champions League quarter-finals. The attacker, who has mainly played in midfield this season, says that in an interview with him general newspaper that he didn’t find it “too painful” to see the Portuguese in action against Liverpool. “I thought it was interesting to see how Liverpool would do against them. The first leg was a bit like our game in Lisbon. In the first half, Liverpool were in control, just like us. But after the break they also ended up in Benfica’s counterattacks a couple of times. The 2: 2 could have just happened.”
But it didn’t fall. In fact, Liverpool made it 3-1 in the final stages, putting a clear distance from Benfica in the first game, where Ajax failed to do so. “We should have done the same,” said Berghuis. “That helped us a lot. Then you hear: Ajax was punished for naivety. But that’s too easy for me. Do you have to do a lot differently when you are in front of Benfica? With Liverpool Thiago, one of the most secure midfielders in Europe, I also saw a few lost balls that led to counterattacks. It is not so easy.”
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Berghuis saw Modric shine
The meeting between Real Madrid and Chelsea did not go unnoticed by Berghuis either. The Londoners defended themselves well against the first-leg defeat, but the ticket for the semi-finals went to Real Madrid. After that, it was all about the beautiful assist from Luka Modric. “That was the first thing that came up at the club,” said Berghuis. Daley Blind called it the best assist in football in years. After his own pass to Van Persie at the World Cup.”