Ajax's 1995 Invincibles: The Record Breaking Side That Defied Expectations

Nov 25, 2020, 9:00 PM GMT
Champions League - Ajax,AC Milan
The 1995 Ajax side are one of the greatest teams ever | VI-Images/Getty Images
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When thinking of the word 'invincibles' in football, many minds would naturally immediately jump to the Arsenal 2003/04 side which went that entire Premier League campaign unbeaten.

There have also been sides that have managed to go undefeated en route to achieving Champions League glory down the years.

But going unbeaten in both, in the same season? Now, there's only such team that holds this record - the 1994/95 Ajax side.

As well as failing to taste defeat in their domestic league in 1994/95, the Dutch giants also managed to do the same in Europe's top competition to earn their fourth European crown. But it was a victory that few had seen coming, even despite their obvious progression under Louis van Gaal.

Sure, in the competition, fans were desperate to see this young squad lay down a marker and make their intentions clear for the coming seasons ahead. Winning the league wasn't much of a surprise - how they won it was, however - but the consistently excellent displays in Europe were astonishing.

This was an Ajax team in its purest form, with 13 squad players being homegrown and an average age of just 23. This team had the perfect blend of youthful exuberance and experience, and while the flair and skill within the team was a joy to behold, Van Gaal ingrained a toughness and determination which meant his side never once gave up. It was this attitude that proved so beneficial in their charge to domestic and European glory.

Van Gaal built his era-defining team on the core principles of togetherness, hard work and cohesion. Equally, Van Gaal used his philosophy to simply try and build on the work of the legendary Johan Cruyff, rather than creating a brand new style. His work laid the foundation for individual players - such as Jari Litmanen and the young Patrick Kluivert - to shine, but it was a collective effort that drove them to such unprecedented success.

Indeed, as then Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano said, they were 'Beauty and the Beast'.

Ajax finished seven points clear of Roda JC in the Eredivisie in 1994/95, picking up 27 wins from their 34 matches. Sure, going the season unbeaten in the league was quite the achievement in itself, but what makes it even more impressive was the manner in which they did this.

Van Gaal's men netted a stunning 106 goals (yes, you did read that right) in the league that season - averaging over three goals a game. Oh, and they also conceded just 28 times as well.

They were simply unstoppable.

SOCCER-AJAX-BAYERN
This Ajax team were lethal going forward | PAUL VREEKER/Getty Images

But in the same group as European giants Milan in the Champions League, many predicted Ajax to be found out and brought back down to reality.

But this didn't happen.

Instead, Ajax beat Milan both home and away in the group stages before humiliating Bayern Munich in the semi-finals to book their place in the final. And their opponents? Well, it just so happened to be Milan again and while the Dutch had beaten them twice in the group stages, the Rossoneri were considered the favourites.

After all, they had just reached their fifth European final in seven seasons and were the defending champions. But again, Ajax prevailed in breathtaking fashion, 18-year-old Kluivert coming off the bench to score the winner in the 85th minute, sparking wild celebrations.

Ajax actually went the whole of 1995 undefeated, a run of 48 games in the league and the Champions League. More broadly, this team went on to not taste defeat in 52 domestic games and in 19 Champions League matches between 1994 and 1996.

This Ajax team wasn't just special, they were one of the best sides ever. How much more success they could have achieved if they had all stayed together we will never know, however.

For more from Adam Aladay, follow him on Twitter!

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