After winning it all last year for the third year running, Real Madrid will be excited to get back to Champions League competition. The knockout rounds are underway, and Madrid kick off their round with an away fixture in Amsterdam to take on the dutch giants Ajax in the first of two legs.
Ajax will have no fear when Madrid visit on Wednesday. The Dutch side has been scoring goals for fun this season, netting 72 goals in just 21 league games this far. Ajax striker and former Madrid player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is no stranger to Champions League competition. Huntelaar scored 13 goals in 25 UCL appearances from 2010-2015 for FC Schalke 04. He will be accompanied up top by Hakim Ziyech and Dušan Tadić, two in form players who each have 10+ goals in the domestic league this season. Ajax will look to go toe-to-toe with Madrid on Wednesday night, as scoring is their strong suit.
Ajax is 6-1-3 in their last 10 matches across all competitions. Ajax is undefeated in the Eredivisie at home this season, as well as the Champions League, going 10-3-0 in home matches in the two competitions.
Tadić has been the go-to man for Ajax this season. After spending four lackluster seasons in the Premier League at Southampton, Tadić has burst onto the scene in Holland, scoring 18 goals in all competitions, including 5 Champions League group stage goals. Applying his trade on the left wing, the 30 year old Tadić has found his form again, leading Ajax in scoring, as well as tied with the most assists across all competitions with 8. Watch for the Serbian to be the difference maker if Ajax is to get a result out of this one.
Road to Knockout Round
Ajax finished second behind Bayern München FC in Group E, collecting 12 points, scoring 11 goals and conceding five. Ajax beat out Benfica and AEK in the group stages, and were able to go 3-3-0 in six matches, finishing the stage undefeated.
Ajax Champions League Form
|12.12.2019||DRAW||Ajax v Bayern Munich||3 – 3 (HT 0 – 1)|
|27.11.2018||WIN||AEK v Ajax||0 – 2 (HT 0 – 0)|
|07.11.2018||DRAW||Benfica v Ajax||1 – 1 (HT 1 – 0)|
|23.10.2018||WIN||Ajax v Benfica||1 – 0 (HT 0 – 0)|
|02.10.2018||DRAW||Bayern Munich v Ajax||1 – 1 (HT 1 – 1)|
The Champions League has been Real Madrid’s contest for the last three years. Los Blancos have won the contest each year for the last three seasons, but this year will be much different. Real Madrid will be without legend Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo was responsible for 15 of Madrid’s 33 Champions League goals last season, and assisted an additional three. His production has yet to be fully replaced, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema struggling to match the former Madrid players’ scoring pace in the Champions League. Nonetheless, Madrid does have the luxury of bringing back one of the most experienced and talented back lines in world football. Led by captain Sergio Ramos, the Madrid back line features Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, and Raphaël Varane. All four of these players were apart of the 3-peat that was achieved over the past three years, and two of the centre backs have won a World Cup (Ramos, Varane). Expect this Madrid defense to be a huge part of any success that Los Blancos have in this year’s tournament.
Real Madrid have won 8 of their last 10 matches across all competitions, going 8-1-1. Madrid is 3-1-1 in their last 5 away fixtures, scoring three goals in each of those road victories.
Look out for Luka Modric, the Croatian midfielder seems to always show up for the big games. Modric is coming off of a solid performance midweek that saw him assist a goal in the 3-1 Madrid win over Atletico. Against Ajax, Modric will have more room in the middle of the park than he is used to. This will benefit Madrid, allowing Modric to link the midfield with their threatening attacking line. Wingers Gareth Bale and Vinícius Júnior will be the danger men going forward, but will only be able to effect the game if Modric can pull the strings in the midfield.
Road to Knockout Round
Read Madrid was able to top Group G, taking 12 points, scoring 12 goals, conceding five. Real Madrid went 4-0-2 in their six group stage matches. Both of Madrid’s losses came to CSKA Moscow, who finished bottom of Group G.
Real Madrid Champions League Form
|12.12.2018||LOSS||Real Madrid v CSKA Moscow||0 – 3 (HT 0 – 2)|
|27.11.2018||WIN||Roma v Real Madrid||0 – 2 (HT 0 – 0)|
|07.11.2018||WIN||Pizen v Real Madrid||0 – 5 (HT 0 – 4)|
|23.10.2018||WIN||Real Madrid v Pizen||2 – 1 (HT 1 – 0)|
|02.10.2018||LOSS||CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid||1 – 0 (HT 1 – 0)|
Here are how the odds to win the match look from the bookies ahead of the game.
Odds taken at 09:00 GMT 13/02/2019
Our Verdict and Best Bets
After a rough start to the 2018-19 season, Madrid has turned it around. After firing and replacing former manager Julen Lopetegui, Madrid has found form, closing the gap at the top of La Liga to just six points. The Champions League has picked back up at just the right time for Madrid, who will be looking to end this tie with Ajax in the first leg. Ajax has allowed four or more goals twice in the last five matches, and is prone to conceding in bundles. The openness of the game will favor Madrid, who will look to strike early and often in their favorite competition. Look for a high scoring Madrid win in this one.
Over 1.5 Goals and Real Madrid to win @ 2.10 (11/10) with William Hill.