When it comes to Danish talent, all eyes have been on Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen the last few years. But in the season’s second half ouverture against Feyenoord, Viktor Fischer popped up and stole the show.
Two first half goals via mistakes from Feyenoord’s right-back Darryl Janmaat and central defender Joris Mathijsen meant the 18-year-old prodigy put the spotlight on his rapid development.
Fischer’s first goal was made possible by a through-pass of Finnish defender Niklas Moisander. Fischer ran onto it, held off Janmaat, rounded the keeper and finished with consummate ease.
His second was a result of experienced defender Mathijsen kicking the ball into the path of Fischer, who came in from the right and blasted the ball into the corner.
Clinical, without hesitation.
The score was settled by that other, better-known Danish prodigy, 20-year-old playmaker Christian Eriksen. A second half free kick aimed at a melee of players skipped past them all and surprised Feyenoord goalie Erwin Mulder.
Feyenoord got their chance on redemption later in the game. Halfway through the second half, Ricardo Van Rhijn supposedly fouled a Feyenoord player in the penalty box and got his second yellow. Lex Immers’ penalty was saved and he nonchalantly skied the rebound.
In the remaining 25 minutes, Ajax hardly broke a sweat, finishing the match with a 3-0 victory. And so, in a match marked by mistakes, the two Danish prospects were the ones who put Feyenoord to the sword.
The weekend after, Ajax visited Vitesse and after Eriksen deflected a long-range effort of Christian Poulsen to make it 0-2, they looked well on their way to another victory. But the deficit was overturned by the Arnhem-based club, who are now looking to play a part in the title race once again.
Fischer was substituted off just before former Ajax player Theo Janssen made it 1-2 and Eriksen and his men couldn’t contain the fury that was unleashed by Vitesse once they felt they could still get something from the game.
In an open competition like the Eredivisie however, one blip won’t lose you the title. Last weekend saw the Amsterdammers impress with a 0-4 victory in the Cup over Vitesse and a 0-3 victory over VVV Venlo.
Against Vitesse, Eriksen and Fischer failed to make an impact, but against VVV Venlo an Eriksen assist for Siem De Jong and a goal by Fischer helped Ajax grab the win.
Ajax now sit in second place, three points behind PSV Eindhoven and one point ahead of FC Twente. Feyenoord are fourth, trailing FC Twente by one point. The competition is still pretty much open.
Even though the older Dane Eriksen has been hailed as one of Europe’s biggest talents, Fischer might be the one to watch.
Eriksen is by far the better footballer, but he tends to overthink his moves and struggles to make an impact in the big matches. Fischer on the other hand seems an unconcerned player who has so far dealt with pressure very well.
Expectations have been high ever since Fischer impressed at Under-17 level, and grew further last season when he became joint-top scorer in the NextGen Series.
This year, he was gradually brought into the first team and he has impressed with 5 goals and 3 assists in 11 Eredivisie matches. Cutting in from the left, the Dane has shone in an inside forward role and the qualities he demonstrated to score his two goals versus Feyenoord show exactly the type of decisiveness Frank de Boer is looking for in his attack.
Fischer’s directness, pace, good use of his body and composed finishing could turn him into a game-changer at any level. Apart from that, he also has the ability to create. But whatever he does, he seldom seems to hesitate.
Eriksen will be relieved to see his younger countryman lift the burden on him and could perhaps thrive in the second half of the season. Looking at the stats, a return of 4 goals and 5 assists in the first half of the season was hardly impressive, considering the 20-year-old’s huge ability.
With his awareness, technical ability, two-footedness and vision he should be closer to his counterpart at FC Twente, Dusan Tadic, who has impressed with 10 goals and 11 assists. Encouragingly, he did score two goals in two matches after the winter break however and if he becomes a less complacent finisher, Ajax’ title chances would improve dramatically.
However, those games barely masked two bleak performances and his manager de Boer will be looking at his playmaker to make a more regular impact.
For Eriksen himself, stepping up and really become the pivot of Ajax’ play is rather important too, as the Dane only has 18 months on his contract and he’ll be looking to attract the interest of Europe’s finest. Not yet 21, the playmaker of many accolades feels he needs to move on at some point to develop into the player his potential promises.
Eriksen and Fischer. Not for the first time in their history, Ajax will be looking to their Danes to win the title. And in Lucas Andersen, a third is about to break through…