UEFA Champions League: Ajax vs Real Madrid preview


Spanish giants Real Madrid face a tricky match on Wednesday as they travel to Amsterdam to meet Ajax at Johan Cruijff Arena in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-sixteen tie. The two teams have last met in the group stage of this competition in 2012 and at the time Real Madrid thrashed Ajax 4-1 both at home and away. In fact, Real Madrid have won the last six matches against Ajax, all of them in the Champions League group stage, and all of them with a difference of at least two goals. Before that it was Ajax that had four consecutive wins against Real Madrid, first two during the days of Johan Cruyff and the last two during the golden years of Patrick Kluivert and company.

Ajax Amsterdam have not reached the last sixteen of the UEFA Champions League since 2006, and they have not gone through to the quarter-finals since 2003. This season they managed to pull off some impressive performances in the group stage, finishing it unbeaten with three wins and three draws. However, they lost two of their last three matches in the Dutch league, including a 6-2 thumping at Feyenoord, and are six points behind leaders PSV. Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong is an injury doubt ahead of this match, while Carel Eiting will definitely miss out due to an injury.

Real Madrid have won the last three editions of this competition and it would be a huge surprise if they would have problems against Ajax. However, this season has been full of setbacks for the Blancos, who have already replaced their head coach during this campaign. Now they are on a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, including the 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the Copa del Rey last week. At the weekend Real did very well to win 3-1 at local rivals Atletico, moving up to second place in the LaLiga table. Isco is the only injury concern for the away side.

Probable line-ups:

Ajax: Onana - Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico - Van de Beek, De Jong, Schone - Ziyech, Dolberg, Tadic

Real: Courtois - Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon - Modric, Casemiro, Kroos - Vazquez, Benzema, Junior

My prediction: Real Madrid to win 2-1, the Blancos are too powerful for Ajax.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Ajax win - 3.80
Draw - 4.20
Real win - 1.90

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