Manuel Veth –
Juventus vs Ajax – Tuesday, April 16, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
It was a narrow result at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam. But in the end, Juventus managed to keep Ajax at bay and return home with a 1-1 draw that will now slightly favour the Italians.
Once again the saviour was Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The 34-year-old was signed for €100 million ahead of this season and continues to show his worth in big games. After all, the Dutch side was pressing Juve throughout the game and should have taken the lead on various occasions.
In the end, Juve’s Cristiano only needed a split second to score the lead. Juve have now been unbeaten in ten games against Ajax including the 1996 Champions League final in which the Italians ended Amsterdam’s dominance of the continent.
Ajax, of course, want to improve their record and the de Godenzonen are in fantastic form at the moment. On Saturday Ajax demolished Excelsior Rotterdam 6-2 and continue to be on top of the Eredivisie table.
In fact, there are some parallels between Ajax and the side that dominated Europe in the 1990s. Overall, Ajax have already scored 154 goals this season, 106 in the league, 30 in the Champions League and 17 in the national cup.
Against Juve on Tuesday Ajax will likely once again play with three false-number 9s in a 4-3-3 formation. Meanwhile, in midfield, Frenkie de Jong should be fit against Juve despite being taken off the field on the weekend. “It was simply a precaution,” head coach Erik ten Hag explained to the media.
Hence, the only player not available will be left-back Nicolas Tagliafico. In his stead, Joel Veltman is expected to play centre-back with Daley Blind moving out wide.
There is plenty of goals in this Ajax side, certainly enough to score the one away goal Ajax need. But Juve have Cristiano, a forward that could shatter Ajax’s dreams of becoming the first team from outside of Europe’s top five leagues to reach the semifinal of the competition since 2005.
Juventus vs Ajax – Players to look out for:
Cristiano Ronaldo #7 – Ajax
It was just a split second that Cristiano needed to score the goal. The Portuguese forward seemingly struggled with his injury throughout the first leg. But the 34-year-old is always dangerous in the Champions League and once again was the difference maker. But Ajax are not out of this by any stretch of the imagination meaning that Juventus once again need goals from their main man.
David Neres #7 – Ajax
David Neres has been once again linked with major clubs in Europe this week. According to some media reports David Neres has now been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund, not to forget the army of English Premier League sides that are interested. The 22-year-old Brazilian has scored 12 goals and 15 assists in 45 games this season and is considered a major part of Ajax’s latest golden generation. With Ajax always in the spotlight of major clubs looking to scout the next super talent a spotlight that only increased following Neres’ outstanding performance in the
Juventus vs Ajax – Match Stats
- Ajax have won only two of their 13 European fixtures against Juventus, and none since 1974. Juve are unbeaten in their last ten games against the Dutch club, winning five of the last seven.
- Juve have won all four of the teams’ two-legged contests, most recently prevailing 2-1 in the Amsterdam first leg of their 2009/10 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie and progressing after a goalless draw in Turin.
- The Bianconeri are unbeaten against Ajax in Turin (W3 D2), although they have scored only one goal in total in the last two fixtures, keeping clean sheets in both.
- Juve’s record in two-legged ties against Dutch clubs is W4 L1.
- The 2003 defeat at AC Milan ended Ajax’s five-match unbeaten away run in European Cup quarter-finals (W2 D3).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Juventus vs Ajax – 2-0
Juventus vs Ajax – Lineups
Szczesny – Alex Sandro, Rugani, Bonucci, João Cancelo – Matuidi, Pjanić, Bentancur – Cristiano, Mandžukić, Bernadeschi
Head Coach: Massimiliano Allegri
Onana – Blind, Veltman, de Ligt, Mazraoui – F. de Jong, van de Beek, Schöne – David Neres, Tadić, Ziyech
Head Coach: Erik ten Hag
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.