UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid vs Ajax preview


Real Madrid will be looking for a revival in Europe when they face Ajax Amsterdam at Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last-sixteen tie. The Blancos are coming from a terrible week, but the 2-1 first-leg victory in Amsterdam should give them enough confidence for this match. Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio scored for Real Madrid in the first leg, either side of a goal from Hakim Ziyech for Ajax. That was the seventh consecutive win for Real Madrid against Ajax, all of them in the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid had one of the worst few days in decades last week as they got beaten twice by rivals Barcelona, first 3-0 in the Copa del Rey in on Wednesday and then 1-0 in LaLiga at the weekend. With those two results they recorded three defeats in their last four matches in all competitions, dropped out of the Spanish Cup and allowed Barcelona to build a 12-point gap at the top of the league table. Winning the Champions League is the only objective that remains for the Blancos this season, but it might prove an impossible target for them this time. Sergio Ramos is suspended for this match, while Marcos Llorente is an injury doubt.

Ajax Amsterdam don't have much of a chance to advance to the quarter-finals, they would need at least a 2-0 victory in Madrid and that seems quite unlikely, despite Real's poor recent form. Ajax have been doing much better than Real after the first leg, they won three out of three matches in all competitions, qualified for the Dutch Cup final and closed the gap towards league leaders PSV to just five points with a game in hand. The team should be well-rested too as they skipped last weekend's league match in order to prepare better for Tuesday's clash. Carel Eiting and Lisandro Magallan are injured and won't be included in the squad that travels to Madrid.

Probable line-ups:

Real: Courtois - Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Reguilon - Modric, Casemiro, Kroos - Asensio, Benzema, Junior

Ajax: Onana - Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico - Beek, De Jong, Schone - Ziyech, Tadic, Neres

My prediction: Real Madrid to win 2-1, the Blancos should be able to edge past the Dutch side, despite their poor recent form.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Real win - 1.65
Draw - 4.20
Ajax win - 5.50

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