Today’s Barcelona have Dutch football to thank for a lot of their history and on Wednesday Real Madrid take on Ajax, who have acted as a breeding ground for the Catalans.
The Champions League music will sound at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam to welcome the 13 times European champions and they will come up against Frenkie de Jong – a future foe in El Clasico – and a potential other in Matthijs de Ligt.
El Flaco and Neeskens
Cruyff arrived at Barcelona in 1973 but he first crossed paths with Madrid in 1967 and it was known that he was a special talent.
Barcelona signed him and Johan Neeskens to create the first Dutch version of the club and with Cruyff came a league title in 1973/74, though they fell in the European Cup against Leeds United.
Following in Cruyff‘s footsteps came another Dutchman as Ronald Koeman arrived and helped to deliver the first European Cup at Wembley. Richard Witschge and Jordi Cruyff then followed him to the Camp Nou.
The Van Gaal era
After the birth and destruction of Cruyff’s Dream Team, Barcelona were champions of Spain again with Louis van Gaal – another linked to Ajax.
The list of Dutch grew and all had links to Ajax: Winston Bogarde, Michael Reiziger, the De Boer brothers, Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars.
The ‘third’ with Rijkaard
Another Dutchman with Ajax in his DNA returned Barcelona to being crowned European champions, this time from the bench as Frank Rijkaard delivered the club their third European Cup in Paris against Arsenal.
Cillessen and De Jong
On January 23 the list grew again with De Jong‘s signing. He will join Jasper Cillessen at the Camp Nou, should the goalkeeper stay beyond the 21-year-old’s summer arrival.
On the contrary
Before arriving at Barcelona, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez passed through Ajax, though the Swede exploded in Italy while the Uruguayan did in the Premier League, with Maxwell also arriving in Europe through the Amsterdam club.
There have also been cases of players moving in the opposite directions, with Gabri opening those gates which Roger Garcia, Bojan, Oleguer Presas and Michael Laudrup subsequently passed through.
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