Wednesday is the day; Ajax receives Real Madrid in the eighth final of the Champions League. A poster that Amsterdam has been looking forward to for months. From 9 p.m., Ajax will have the opportunity to make it difficult for the title holder, although that seems impossible in this form.
Ajax could not be beat before the winter break. In all competitions, only PSV had succeeded in getting the sons of God to their knees. After the winter break everything is different. The Ajax players played four games in the new year; lost two, played one tie and won only one game. The team plays lax, without confidence and the team seems to have forgotten patterns. The players blame each other for not performing tasks and trainer Erik ten Hag is under attack. Far from ideal preparation for an important Champions League match.
De Jong has to get up
Just now that Ajax is not up to the mark, it is up to the top players to show that they can carry the team. Frenkie de Jong will get that chance on Wednesday. De Jong must show why he is seen as one of the greatest talents in Europe and has just completed a mega transfer to Barcelona. The central midfielder gets the chance to compete with players like Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casimero. Players he will also meet in the Spanish league next year. Real Madrid has made the most goal attempts of all teams in the Champions League (118) and their midfielders can often be found around sixteen meters so De Jong will have to stand his ground not only offensive but also defensive. On Wednesday evening he can show why Barcelona paid him more than 75 million euros.
Where Ajax has lost its way, Real Madrid has just picked up the thread again. The title holders turned around with difficulty and fired coach Julen Lopetegui at the end of October. Under the new trainer Santiago Solari, the team plays with confidence again. New players such as Vinícius Júnior and Mariano Díaz find their turn and the open wound that Cristiano Ronaldo left behind to heal. If the upward trend continues, seven wins and one draw in the last eight games, then Real Madrid takes the team from Amsterdam. Ajax will in any case want to prevent a defeat as in the last home match against the Royal. In October 2012, Real won 1-4 thanks to a hat trick from Ronaldo, among others. Now a small Spanish victory is more obvious.
Real Madrid: 1.91
Real Madrid wins 1-2: 7.15
Both teams score: 1.45
Both teams score and Real Madrid wins: 3.05
Real Madrid: 1.85
Real Madrid wins 1-2: 8.75
Both teams score: 1.50
Both teams score and Real Madrid wins: 2.95
Real Madrid: 1.85
Real Madrid wins with 1-2: 8.00
Both teams score: 1.52
Both teams score and Real Madrid wins: 3.20