MX23RW : Monday, April 22 05:04:43| >> :600:4139070:4139070:
Mar 5, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 77,013
Real Madrid
1-4
Ajax
Asensio (70')
Nacho (90')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Ziyech (7'), Neres (18'), Tadic (62'), Schone (72')

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Ajax - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Ajax.

Real Madrid will be looking to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League when they welcome Ajax to the Bernabeu for the second leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday night.

Madrid hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Amsterdam, but they will have been damaged by successive defeats to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and league respectively over the last few days.


Real Madrid

Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic scores the opening goal against Real Madrid in the Clasico on March 2, 2019© Reuters

Losing two home Clasicos in the space of three days will have really, really hurt Madrid. First, Barca beat them 3-0 on Wednesday night to advance into the final of the Copa del Rey courtesy of a 4-1 aggregate success.

Then the Catalan giants recorded a 1-0 victory in La Liga on Saturday night, with Ivan Rakitic grabbing the only goal of the contest. Madrid's recent record in El Clasico is absolutely rotten and the latest defeat means that they are now 12 points off the top of the table, which means game over in terms of the title race.

With the Copa del Rey and La Liga both gone, all of Madrid's eggs are once again in the Champions League basket. Luckily they do have just a bit of history in this competition, but it is difficult to imagine this team landing the trophy this term.

Madrid have won the last three editions of the Champions League and have been victorious in their last nine two-legged knockout ties in the competition, which is a quite staggering record.

Meanwhile, this is their 23rd Champions League campaign and indeed the 23rd time that they have reached the knockout stage. The 13-time champions have also been semi-finalists or better in each of the last eight seasons, which is an indication of their quite staggering record in the competition.

It is worth remembering that Santiago Solari's side suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Girona in the league before the back-to-back games with Barca. As a result, they have lost their last three in front of their own supporters, who are incredibly frustrated with what they have seen from their team this season.

Madrid have won their last five home matches against Dutch opposition, though, and have still lost only six of their last 40 European matches. What's more, the Spanish giants have lost just one of the 34 UEFA competition ties where they won the first leg away from home.

The statistics suggest that Ajax will score on Tuesday night, however, as Madrid have kept just three clean sheets in their last 19 games in all competitions, and none in their last seven.

Recent form: WWWLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWL


Ajax

Ajax players celebrate a 'goal' - disallowed by VAR - against Real Madrid in the Champions League on February 13, 2019© Reuters

Ajax were impressive for long stages of the first leg in Amsterdam and it would certainly not have been an unjust result had Madrid failed to score a second late on. Losing on home soil has left the Dutch outfit with a huge task, but they will head to the Spanish capital full of confidence following some strong form.

Indeed, since losing to Los Blancos in the first leg, Erik ten Hag's side have beaten NAC Breda, ADO Den Haag and Feyenoord in the Eredivisie, scoring 13 times and conceding just once. As it stands, they are just two points behind league leaders PSV Eindhoven and are well placed to make a strong challenge for the crown.

This is actually the first time that Ajax have been present in the last-16 stage of the Champions League since the 2005-06 campaign. Not since the 2002-03 season, meanwhile, have the Dutch giants reached the quarter-finals of this prestigious competition.

Ahead of the first leg, Ajax were actually unbeaten in Europe this season. Indeed, they had won seven of their 12 matches and only finished two points behind Bayern Munich in Group E. The Dutch outfit drew home and away against Bayern, demonstrating that they are capable of picking up a result.

Ajax have incredibly scored 82 times in 23 league matches this season, while they netted 11 times in the group stage of the Champions League. In all honesty, Ten Hag's team should have netted more than once in first leg, but they are far from out of this tie due to their serious firepower in the final third.

That said, the Amsterdam giants have lost their last seven games against Los Blancos, conceding 22 times and scoring just three. They have also only been victorious in two of their last 15 games against Spanish opposition, losing 12 times in the process.

Ajax do have previous when it comes to winning a Champions League tie having lost the home first leg, though. Indeed, they achieved that feat against Greek outfit Panathinaikos in the semi-finals of the 1995-96 competition, losing 1-0 on home soil before winning the away leg 3-0.

Madrid will not exactly be full of confidence following back-to-back defeats to Barca, but Ajax will still have to put in a near-perfect performance if they are to dump the holders out of the competition.

Recent form: DWDWDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWWW


Team News

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos picks up a yellow card against Ajax in February 2019© Reuters

Gareth Bale was given the nod to start against Barca on Saturday night, but the Welshman again struggled before being replaced in the 61st minute.

Lucas Vazquez did not feature at the weekend but is sure to return to the team alongside Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior in the final third of the field.

Solari is unlikely to make changes to his midfield with Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric all due to start, but there will be no Sergio Ramos.

Ramos will actually be suspended for Madrid's next two European matches for deliberately picking up a booking in the first leg earlier this month.

As a result, Madrid's captain will be absent on Tuesday night and also for the first leg of the quarter-finals, should the reigning champions progress.

Nacho is currently serving a domestic suspension, but the Spaniard is available to feature in Europe and is the favourite to start alongside Raphael Varane.

As for Ajax, Dusan Tadic started as the central forward in the first leg in Amsterdam and it is likely that will be the case once again on Tuesday night, leaving Kasper Dolberg and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as options from the bench.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres should join Tadic in the final third, with Frenkie de Jong – who is joining Barcelona this summer – starting alongside Lasse Schone in the middle of the park.

Former Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind should pair the in-demand Matthijs de Ligt in central defence, meanwhile, with Nicolas Tagliafico – recently linked with Arsenal and Barcelona – featuring at left-back.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Reguilon; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Vinicius, Benzema, Lucas

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Onana; Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; De Jong, Schone; Neres, Van de Beek, Ziyech; Tadic


Head To Head

The two teams have met on 13 occasions in the European Cup. Madrid lead the head-to-head eight wins to four, with only one draw taking place.

Madrid have won each of the last seven meetings between the two teams, meanwhile, but Ajax were victorious in four straight matches against the Spanish giants between April 1973 and November 1995.

Their last meeting at the Bernabeu took place in the group stages of the 2012-13 campaign and Madrid ran out 4-1 winners on the night.


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We say: Real Madrid 2-1 Ajax

There is simply no downplaying the importance of this match. We expect a talented Ajax side to score, but fancy Madrid to just squeeze into the quarter-finals of the European Cup.


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Who will advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League?

Real Madrid
Ajax
Real Madrid
53.4%
Ajax
46.6%
Vinicius Junior celebrates the own goal during the La Liga game between Real Madrid and Real Valladolid on November 3, 2018
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