Ground: Amsterdam ArenA
Date: 24th February 2011
Match: Ajax - Anderlecht 2-0 (UEFA Europa League)
Attendance: 42 591
As in recent years I was free from work the last week of February. With it being a week with matches in the two European cups I was hoping to combine league matches in Germany with at least one Europa League match. When I saw the draw the choice was quite easy. Ajax vs Anderlecht is a classic battle between the two biggest clubs in Holland and Belgium. A trip to Amsterdam is also easy to combine with matches in Germany. My journey to Amsterdam started on Wednesday afternoon and at Copenhagen airport I spotted several Swedish referees boarding my flight. That was of course the Swedish refereeing team in charge of the Ajax - Anderlecht game. UEFA treat their officials first class and the referees were in Business class. My seat was further down the aisle.....
Once in Amsterdam I was greeted by snow and +2 ºC, not too different from the weather back home. As I woke up on Thursday morning it was slightly warmer but an annoying mist in Amsterdam. First thing I did after breakfast was taking the metro to Amsterdam ArenA and I was a bit surprised to see so many Anderlecht supporters outside the stadium. The fans were in a good and friendly mood though and some of them even bought som Ajax souvenirs. I visited the club shop and museum myself and when I was in the museum the only other people there were the Swedish referees. Maybe they thought I was stalking them?
After some touristing I once again made my way to the stadium later in the evening to pick up my ticket. Amsterdam ArenA has a capacity of around 52 000 and was opened in 1996. The stadium was one of the first stadiums in Europe with a retractable roof and a stadium I had wanted to visit for some time. With a 21.05 kick-off it would a late finishing to my day in Amsterdam. Ajax won the first leg 3-0 in Brussels so the tie was unfortunately more or less decided before kick-off. The 3-0 score-line probably took 5 000 off the attendance but 42 591 is still a decent crowd for an Europa League match in the first knock-out round. Ajax scored two early and after 17 minutes, when the second goal was scored, everyone knew the tie was over. The 2000 or so Anderlecht supporters were in full voice when the game started but were understandly quiet for the majority of the match. Both teams had chances to score some more goals but that was not to happen and the match ended 2-0 to Ajax.
As I wrote earlier, Amsterdam ArenA is a ground I have wanted to visit for a while and I am pleased to be able to tick-off another ground on my "must-do" list. Of course the ultimate match to visit the ground for would have been Ajax vs PSV or Ajax vs Feyenoord but a match against Anderlecht was a good day out as well. Tomorrow I will go to Germany for match 2 and 3 on this tour and with the first of those matches being the derby between Oberhausen and Duisburg I have something to look forward to, not to mention spending 2,5 hours in an ICE train!
Houses near the water
A misty day in Amsterdam
Amsterdam ArenA, rear of the West Stand
Rear of the NE corner
Trophies on display
Model of Amsterdam ArenA
View of play
View of Amsterdam ArenA
Pano (taken during the flag waving)