Ajax v. Real Madrid Champions League Game
This is part of our Champions League coverage, as always, there’s more on our Champions League page!
Ajax will open this 2-legged knockout stage series at home at Johan Cruyff Arena. Both sides are Champions League (and other European Cup) “blue bloods” that are no stranger to these games. Although Real Madrid does have the more prolific history in terms of taking home Champions League trophies.
Ajax are no strangers to European Competitions, and they’ve gotten here from absolute domination in their domestic league. They have brought home an astounding 33 Eredivise League Titles to go along with 18 KNVB (Dutch FA) Cup Titles. They’ve also got the equivalent of 4 Champions League winners trophies. That said, they would love to continue their winning ways (especially over another “blue blood” in European competition).
Last time we talked about this Ajax side, they were in a 3 way competition in the Eredivisie, but since then it’s come down to only a 2-way battle. It has Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, who were eliminated after an abysmal 2 point showing in the group stage, battling for the top spot with only 2 points separating them. After those two, there’s a large (10) point drop off between the next competitor (Feyenoord). Ajax are averaging a ridiculous 4 goals per game in the league while conceding 0.67 goals per game (no — that’s not a typo, in 9 games they’ve allowed 6 goals).
In the Champions League, Ajax secured 7 of the 9 possible points at home by averaging 2.34 goals per game and averaging a single goal against. The 12 points that Ajax secured in the group stage for 2nd in Group E, while Real Madrid secured 1st place in Group G. Ajax actually come into this match in better form that their opponent having not lost in the group stage with 3 wins and 3 draws.
Real Madrid is soccer “royalty”, quite literally, and have won the UEFA Champions League 13 straight times. They have also the honor of having won La Liga (Spanish domestic division) a record-setting 33 times. They have also won the Copa del Rey (“Kings Cup”) 19 times. Long-story short, Real Madrid is one of the winningest soccer teams in the world.
Real Madrid has been rather disappointing (by their standards) in the domestic competition. They are 3rd in the league behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid who hold a 10- and 5- point lead, respectively. Even more telling than their place in the league are the goals scored and goal difference. Barcelona has nearly doubled the Madrid scoring total while allowing 3 less goals, which takes their goal difference to +35 for Barcelona compared to a rather pedestrian +5 for Madrid. Real Madrid has struggled away from home (6th-ranked away form) but their home form is only a little better (3rd-ranked home form)
Real Madrid’s Champions League form has been good, with 4 wins and 2 losses in the group stage. One of those losses came at home (0-3 to CSKA Moscow) and the other on the road (0-1 CSKA Moscow). Real Madrid has scored seemingly at will on the remainder of their opponents and are averaging 0.3 goals allowed on the road, while scoring 2.3 goals per game. The most interesting part about Real Madrid’s form, is that both of their losses come to a team in CSKA Moscow that frankly didn’t make a good showing in the group stage (accruing 7 points on 6 games for 4th in the group).
What to expect
Ajax will want to exploit the weaker away form of Real Madrid while highlighting their own great home form. It will be interesting to see how this game begins due to CSKA Moscow’s success against them. I anticipate that Ajax will seek to emulate this behavior to cause a Ronaldo-less Madrid trouble. They haven’t been the same side since CR7 left them to go to Juventus. Both sides have allowed only 5 goals against through their first 6 games — and the difference in goals scored is only 1 more (scored by Real Madrid). I think this ends up being a great matchup against two offensive-minded powerhouses and I think there will be some similarly spectacular saves by the respective goalkeepers.
Last Updated: January 24, 2019