Sunday, April 20: KNVB Cup Final at De Kuip, 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
For Frank de Boer’s Ajax, the final offers the perfect opportunity to complete a domestic double as they edge towards lifting a fourth consecutive Eredivisie crown. It would be the first time that the Amsterdam giants have ever won four straight league titles and adding a cup triumph to their haul would be the icing on the sweetest of cakes.
Zwolle may enter the contest as firm underdogs, but that won’t stop Ron Jans’ men from dreaming of a first ever KNVB triumph. The Blauwvingers have previously reached the final twice, losing in both 1928 and 1977, and they will be hoping to make it third time lucky in Rotterdam.
It should be a thrilling encounter.
The Route To De Kuip
Zwolle’s road to Rotterdam started with a 2-0 win over Fortuna Stittard, and it continued with comfortable wins over Wilhelmina 08, Excelsior, and JVC Cuijk in order to set up a semi-final clash against Eredivisie rivals NEC Nijmegen.
With 10 minutes remaining and the scores locked at 1-1, central defender Maikel van der Werff’s speculative shot from distance squirmed through Dennis Gentenaar’s body to give Zwolle a 2-1 victory and send them through to the final.
Meanwhile, Ajax made difficult work in their opening game and required extra-time to see off the challenge of Voldendam of the Eerste Divisie. Since then, though, the Amsterdam giants have been impressive—defeating both Feyenoord and AZ on route to the final.
In beating AZ, Frank de Boer’s side exacted revenge for last year’s semi-final failure against the current holders. They will be confident of completing their redemption by winning Sunday’s showdown.
Unsurprisingly, Ajax boast the far superior record in meetings between these two sides. In eight prior encounters, the Amsterdam giants have won seven and drawn one. If they extend that unbeaten sequence on Sunday they will lift the trophy and virtually guarantee a domestic double.
On a brighter note for Zwolle, though, that one draw did come in their most recent meeting. On that occasion, leading scorer Guyon Fernandez’s late first-half goal cancelled out an early Davy Klaassen opener to ensure the home side took a share of the spoils.
However, despite that result, Frank de Boer’s men will be the firm favourites for Sunday’s clash and the majority will expect the returning Siem de Jong to lead the club to a 19th KNVB trophy.
PEC Zwolle will be all fired up for this one, but they will have to battle against the occasion as well as their far superior opponents.
Ajax are far more accustomed to the big stage and should assert their dominance here.
PEC Zwolle 1-3 Ajax
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Stats from Soccerway