Ajax vs Juventus
Competition: Champions League, Quarter Finals (Leg 1)
Venue: Johan Cruijff ArenA
Timings: Wednesday, 10th January 2019, 19:45 pm BST/WAT (UK and Nigeria), 13:45 pm EST, 11:45 am PT (USA), 12:15 am IST
Ajax are set to host the first of the two legs of the quarterfinals in the Champions League against Italian giants Juventus. The Johan Cruijff Arena awaits as the team from Amsterdam play their first UCL Quarters since 2002/03.
Both teams go into this game with a memorable story from the previous round.
Erik ten Hag’s men managed to recover from a home defeat against Real Madrid to win 4-1 in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. The defending champions went into the second leg with a 2-1 advantage but were taken apart by Dusan Tadic and co.
The Bianconeri also recovered against Atletico Madrid after losing 2-0 in the first leg. Ronaldo’s incredible hat-trick in the second leg helped the team win the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
Ajax have played 8 matches in the European competition, out of which they have won 4, tied 3 and lost 1. Juventus have played the same amount of matches, but have won 5 and lost 3.
However, Ajax haven’t beaten Juventus in the European stage since 1973 when the Dutch outfit came out of the game 1-0 to earn themselves the European Cup in Belgrade. Juventus have won the last 5 of their nine games against the Dutch champions, with the remaining 4 matches ending as draws.
Ajax will feel motivated going into this game after becoming leaders of Eredivisie on Goal Difference.
On the other hand, Italian champions-elect Juventus are a win away from being declared Serie A champions for the 8th time in a row.
Neither of the teams have any suspensions to worry about. Noussair Mazrouli is expected to return to play right-back, after missing the previous game due to suspension. Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting are long-term absentees won’t feature in the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo is set to return back from a hamstring injury he suffered from during the International Break. The 34-year-old might make it to the starting XI after being excluded from the squad against AC Milan during the weekend. However, Juve could be without defender Giorgio Chiellini and midfielder Emre Can, who are doubts for the game.
Ajax (4-2-1-3): André Onana; Mazraoui, Matthijs de Ligt, Daley Blind, NicolasTagliafico; Lasse Schone, Frenkie De Jong; Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek, David Neres; Tadic
Juventus (3-4-3): Wojciech Szczesny; Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Joao Cancelo, Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi, Leonardo Spinazzola; Federico Bernadeschi, Mario Mandzukic, Ronaldo.
It should be easier for a much stronger Juventus side to grab a win at the home of the Dutch champions. Since the quarterfinals have two legs, we never know which team might turn out to stun us. Ajax are capable enough to pull off another miracle victory. However, we predict a 2-1 victory to the travelers from Turin.
Feature Image via The SportsRush