Champions League: Los Blancos Break Ajax Hearts

Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid

A late Marco Asensio strike gave Real Madrid a first-leg lead at the Amsterdam Arena tonight, but it was oh so hard on Erik ten Hag’s young guns.

Santiago Solari said before the game that he saw no reason why Los Blancos couldn’t win a fourth consecutive Champions League.

The Champions League 2019 betting odds pitch Los Blancos to win comfortably, while Ajax are long outsiders. But for long periods of this game, the hosts dominated and could easily have been two up at the break.

Highlights of the game

The home fans loved the news that 21-year-old Frenkie de Jong was fit to play after an injury scare. The midfielder is set to sign for Barcelona in the summer, and this was an ideal test of his El Clasico credentials.

The crowd was in fine voice from the off, as Ajax zipped around, passing crisply and full of confidence.

And it was the Dutch who had the first chance. Full-back Noussair Mazraoui played a one-two with Dusan Tadic before taking a shot on from the angle which flew just wide.

Real Madrid gradually worked their way into the game, but the hosts almost broke the deadlock on 26 minutes. The creative Tadic turned Sergio Ramos on the edge of the box and hit a swerving shot which rebounded back off the post.

Ajax were all over the visitors and should have gone ahead after a superb attacking move when De Jong fed Mazraoui; however, Thibaut Courtois made the save.

And they really thought they had gone ahead when Nicolas Tagliafico headed past Courtois. Nonetheless, after an agonising three-minute wait, the goal was ruled out by the VAR. Tadic was adjudged to be marginally offside and interfering with play. Take a look at the Champions League 2019 highlights and make your own mind up.

Either way, the hosts had been brilliant in the first half and were very unlucky to be level.

They continued to press in the second half, but then the cruellest cut came on the hour. Real Madrid’s wonder kid Vinicius Junior hared down the left flank before finding Benzema with a perfect pass for the Frenchman to convert.

Los Blancos had been underwhelming until this moment but then showed their quality to devastating effect.

Ajax roared back and before the swagger returned to Real’s play, the hosts went back onto the front foot. Tadic and Hakim Ziyech pressed forward and got the goal they so richly deserved.

Tagliafico showed a turn of pace down the left and crossed for Ziyech to coolly finish.

Marco Asensio came close to restoring Real’s lead, but his shot curled just wide. And as the young Ajax legs tired, Los Blancos snatched the winner behind Asensio—who met a cross from Dani Carvajal.

Heartbreak for Ajax but Los Blancos march on.

Ajax were left disappointed after VAR ruled out defender Nicolas Tagliafico's goal

Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico’s first-half opener against Real Madrid is disallowed after referral to VAR

Key statistics

Ajax came into this game unbeaten in the Champions League this season, 12 games in total including the qualifying rounds. They played without fear, albeit unlucky not to get a result.

Asensio’s late winner made it seven wins in a row for Real against Ajax in European competition, and it was a fine way for Sergio Ramos to celebrate his 600th appearance for Los Blancos.

It was only the second defeat for Ajax in 22 European games on home soil. However, they can feel hard done to, hitting the woodwork and falling the wrong side of a tight VAR decision.

What’s next?

It’s back to domestic matters now, and Ajax are trailing PSV by six points at the top of the Eredivisie following an inconsistent run.

After tonight’s battle with Europe’s finest, they welcome an entirely different prospect to the Amsterdam Arena when bottom club NAC Breda is the visitor.  That’s a home win if they play anything like they did tonight.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have clawed their way back into the hunt in La Liga, now just six points behind leaders Barcelona after five consecutive wins. Los Blancos are back at the Bernabeu at the weekend against Girona. The Catalans are in a relegation scrap after four consecutive defeats and sit a single point above the drop zone.

And when Ajax and Real Madrid get it back on in two weeks time, we’ll be right there with us. Ajax have a mountain to climb, but it’s not over just yet.

 

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Solari targets four in a row

Santiago Solari does not think it is beyond the realms of possibility for Real Madrid to win a fourth consecutive Champions League this season.

Real face Ajax in the last 16 of the competition and are 10/1 to win Wednesday's first leg in Amsterdam 2-0.

When the draw for the last 16 was made in December, Real were struggling but they have picked up recently and Saturday's 3-1 victory at Atletico Madrid was their fifth La Liga win in a row.

In contrast Ajax have been poor of late, slumping to an embarrassing 6-2 defeat at Feyenoord last month and losing to mid-table Heracles at the weekend.

Real Madrid  have beaten Atletico, Juventus and Liverpool in the last three Champions League finals and can be backed at 10/1 to win the competition again this season.

Asked whether he thought his team could win the Champions League again this term, Solari replied: "Nothing is impossible for Real Madrid.

"Ajax are very well-known for their work in the youth system, for their commitment to young talent and their offensive football.

"That's the way they still work, with a team that has already shown that it was competitive last year and that it remains competitive this year.

"The tie is going to be difficult, like all these occasions in the Champions League."

Real are 1/5 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League and 5/2 to keep a clan sheet against Ajax on Wednesday.

Champions League: Real Madrid Ready To Show Why They Are Champs!

Ajax vs Real Madrid

“A fourth consecutive Champions League? Nothing is impossible for Real Madrid.”

That’s what Los Blancos manager Santiago Solari said ahead of their last-16 match-up with Ajax, and those words send a clear message to the rest of the Champions League playing field: the Madrid giants are back to stake their claim as the best in Europe.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the shock exit of manager Zinedine Zidane were massive blows to the La Liga side; but make no mistake, they remain confident about their title chances even if the odds are stacked against them.

Ajax know very well they are the underdogs in this showdown; however, they will be motivated playing at Amsterdam, in front of a passionate home crowd in Johan Cruyff Arena.

Talking Points

Real Madrid finding their groove

Ronaldo and Zidane led Real Madrid to a record three straight Champions League titles, and after the two left the club in the summer, the team was thrust into the unknown.

Julen Lopetegui’s hiring as manager was supposed to keep Real in contention. Nonetheless, that proved to be a disaster instead, as they found themselves winning just six of their first 13 contests in all competitions.

They lost to CSKA Moscow in a Champions League tie in October, and things didn’t get any better for them. They succumbed to Barcelona 5-1 in El Clasico, a match which sealed the fate of Lopetegui at the Bernabeu.

Fortunately for Madrid, they were able to recover in time with the arrival of Solari. The Argentine manager has guided Los Blancos back to title contention in La Liga, all after spending some time outside the top three.

The team has also experienced a significant turnaround, particularly in the past month. Real are unbeaten in seven consecutive games now, winning six and drawing one in the process. Most recently, they took down city rivals Atletico Madrid, with Gareth Bale scoring his 100th Real goal.

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari is confident that his side will beat Ajax in the upcoming Champions League battle

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari stands on the pitch during their training ahead of the Champions League battle with Ajax

Real Madrid have undoubtedly regained their confidence, and that’s something Ajax will be wary of. Sure enough, they are not the same force they once were without Ronaldo and Zidane, but that also comes with fewer expectations—something which Real could well take advantage.

A bad omen for Ajax

Ajax shouldn’t be written off. After all, they are a great attacking team and undoubtedly deserve to be on this stage.

The Dutch side has already scored a league-leading 72 goals in the Dutch Eredivisie, and they know very well they can score against any team. Besides, they never failed to score in their unbeaten run in the group stage of the Champions League this year.

They gave Bayern Munich a run for their money in the battle for the top spot in Group E, proving they belong among Europe’s elite.

However, in an unusual turn of events, Ajax lost 1-0 to eighth-placed Heracles in the build-up to this game. One could argue that they are just preparing for their encounter with Real, but the fact that they didn’t find the back of the net is a cause for concern.

That was the first time Ajax failed to score since their 3-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven last September—that’s a 25-match scoring streak!

The timing of the defeat couldn’t get any worse, and it doesn’t help the team that they received more bad news with an injury to Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, considered as the heart of the Ajax midfield, is doubtful to play against Real Madrid due to a thigh problem. He picked up the injury in their defeat to Heracles, forcing him to be substituted in the 79th minute.

The 21-year-old De Jong said earlier last week that Ajax need just a ‘little luck’ to get past Real Madrid, but it seems lady luck isn’t smiling on them.

History

Real Madrid will look to grab the Champions League 2019 highlights as they try to re-establish their dominance in the UCL. And Ajax could be the perfect opponents for them considering their recent head-to-head record.

The Spanish outfit have won their past six games in European competition against Ajax, though their last meeting was way back in 2012.

Real Madrid have scored a total of 20 goals against Ajax during that stretch, highlighted by a 1-4 drubbing in October 2012 when Ronaldo hit a hat-trick. In contrast, the Dutch team has only scored two over that period.

Betting Tip

??
Ajax vs Real Madrid Correct Score Real Madrid 1-3 @ 12.50
February 13, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Although both teams are strong offensively, there’s no doubt Real Madrid have the advantage. The Champions League 2019 odds at us point to a relatively tight affair, but I don’t think that will be the case.

I predict the two clubs to find the back of the net. Nevertheless, Ajax’s defence is suspect—having lost 6-2 to Feyenoord late last month—and I think that will doom them.

With that said, I’m putting the smart money on Real Madrid to dominate and take a commanding lead heading to the return fixture at home.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Barca move right for De Jong

Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong says he is confident that he has made the right choice by agreeing a big-money summer move from Ajax to Barcelona.

The highly-rated 21-year-old has agreed a five-year contract with Barca, with an initial fee of 75million euros involved in seeing De Jong head to Spain at the end of the current campaign.

And the five-time Netherlands international is happy that his future has been sorted, with De Jong confirming that both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City had been interested in his services.

He told NOS: "I am happy, proud and also somewhat relieved it is now completed.

"I had spoken to PSG, but my agent told them that I would not be moving. I had also spoken to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

"I am very happy and proud that both those clubs wanted to sign me and others too, but Barcelona have wanted me for a long time.

"They have always been my dream club, they have always been serious about signing me and I always watched them when I was younger, which turned me into a fan.

"The transfer fee will not impact me, I will just do my own thing."

Ajax are currently in second place in the Eredivise, two points behind PSV Eindhoven, with third-placed Feyenoord some nine points adrift of the Amsterdammers.

Ajax are priced at 1/1 to be crowned Dutch champions this season, with PSV available at 4/5.

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Champions League: This Game Had Everything!

Ajax 3-3 Bayern Munich

It’s hard to top Champions League nights like this.

Here were two of European football’s most famous names going head to head in a wonderful arena.

Qualification for the last 16 may already have been assured but top spot in Group E was on the line—and how us fans were treated to a real spectacle.

In fact, this game will feature strongly in the Champions League 2018 highlights as a contest that pretty much had everything, including penalties, red cards and eight minutes of stoppage time.

Highlights of the game

The gist of it all is that Ajax are still unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19—a run of 12 matches—after Nicolas Tagliafico fired home an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

It capped a dramatic night, particularly the second half which few saw coming after the opening 45 minutes.

At halftime, the two sides were only separated by Robert Lewandowski’s 13th-minute goal. The Pole striker raced clear to score for the fourth successive European match, increasing his tally to seven to become the Champions League’s lone top-scorer (ahead of Lionel Messi).

Robert Lewandowski becomes the Champions League's leading scorer following his goals in Bayern Munich-Ajax match

Robert Lewandowski celebrates after hitting his second goal in Bayern Munich vs Ajax game in Champions League

Needing only a draw to top the group, Bayern were in control until Ajax suddenly took the initiative. For a moment, the Dutch side seemed to be heading to the top.

It was no surprise that Dusan Tadic was the main man, as the Serbian international has now scored five of Ajax’s last six goals in the competition.

First, he produced a close-range finish just after the hour mark. Then, after teammate Maximilian Wober and Bayern’s Thomas Muller were sent off eight minutes apart, they were in front.

Eight minutes were left on the clock when Jerome Boateng fouled Kasper Dolberg and Tadic converted from 12 yards.

It was the start of a frenetic finale. Within four minutes, a second penalty was awarded as Tagliafico fouled Thiago Alcantara. Lewandowski (who else?!) netted from the spot after that.

Still, the drama wasn’t over.

Kingsley Coman scored with a fine strike from just inside the box as the game went into injury time, but there was still time for the spirited hosts. Ajax made the best out of the time remaining, with Tagliafico tapping home Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s cross to draw the Dutch level.

It was quite an end to quite a game.

The Champions League 2018 betting odds strongly favour Bayern to be one of the contenders for the trophy—even though they are playing second fiddle in the Bundesliga this term. However, there’s no doubt Ajax may surprise a few opponents.

Key statistics

  • This was Bayern Munich’s 150th group game in the Champions League.
  • This is the first time Ajax have progressed from the group stages since 2005/06, and they deserved their success this year. The Amsterdam club has lost only one of their last nine home fixtures in the UEFA Champions League group stage (won five, drawn three).
  • Ajax have won 14 of their 17 home games against German clubs, the sole defeat a 4-1 loss against Borussia Dortmund in the 2012/13 Champions League group stages.
  • Lewandowski, who has been breaking records for a few years, now has 53 goals (in 78 games) in Champions League history. He is the seventh player to reach the landmark of 50 goals in the competition.
  • Bayern’s only success in the last seven matches against Ajax was in 2004.
  • Ajax coach Erik ten Hag was coach of Bayern’s B team between 2013 and 2014, winning the Regionalliga Bayern in 2014.
  • The draws with Ajax are the only games in which Bayern have dropped points in the section.
  • Ajax have not lost a game nor failed to score a goal since losing 3-0 to PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league in September.
  • Bayern Munich have reached the Champions League quarter-finals or better in each of the last seven seasons.

What’s next?

Ajax have three matches remaining before the winter break.

They host De Graafschap in the Eredivisie on Sunday (December 16), travel to Roda in the Dutch Cup Round of 16 on December 12 and then visit Utrecht in league action two days before Christmas.

Likewise, Bayern, who currently sit third in the Bundesliga standings, have three league matches to contend with.

They travel to Hannover 96 on Saturday before taking on RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt—the side which surprisingly beat them in last season’s German Cup Final.

Remarkably, that will mark the first time that Bayern coach Niko Kovac will face his former team since leaving them in the summer.

 

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Ribery heading for Bayern exit

Franck Ribery is the latest player set to leave Bayern Munich at season's end, the Bundesliga champions have confirmed.

Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic indicated that the French winger is likely to join Arjen Robben in exiting the Allianz Arena next summer.

Robben confirmed earlier this month that he would leave when his contract expires in the summer after a decade of success with the German champions.

Ribery, 35, and Robben have been part of a hugely successful era for Bayern since arriving more than nine years ago.

"The president [Uli Hoeness] talked about it [the possibility of Ribery leaving], and I think it will be like that. It's a year of changes," Salihamidzic told reporters.

Former France international Ribery has made 406 competitive appearances for Bayern, scoring 119 goals, and he has featured in 19 games so far this season.

He will have a key role to play as Bayern continue to prosper this season.

"I am pleased that Franck is still playing that well," Salihamidzic said. "He's one of our key players."

Bayern are 1/1 to win their Champions League game against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The home side are 11/4 while the draw is 14/5.

Bayern need only avoid defeat in the Amsterdam Arena to take spot in Group E with the Eredivisie side set to join them in the last-16, regardless of the outcome on Wednesday.

The reverse fixture in October resulted in a 1-1 draw, with a repeat scoreline this time priced at 6/1.

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De Jong wanted by Euro elite

Ajax head coach Erik Ten Hag believes that midfield starlet Frenkie de Jong will have his pick of the elite clubs of Europe if he decides to move on next summer.

De Jong has become one of the hottest properties in European football over the last 18 months and has been linked with interest from the likes of PSG, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Barcelona.

However, Ten Hag is confident that the 21-year-old Netherlands international will remain in Amsterdam for the rest of the season, before weighing up his next move.

Ten Hag told reporters: "There are many beautiful clubs and everybody knows that Europe's five or six best clubs are watching Frenkie.

"Each player must make his own personal choice – the football that suits them best and that sort of thing. The Premier League is tough, but Ligue 1 is too – especially in a physical sense.

"There are only big clubs interested in Frenkie and each has its advantages and disadvantages. A player has to think about that with their agent, however, this is not the time to talk about it."

Ajax are currently in second place behind PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, having dropped just five points from their 15 games played.

They have also ensured progress to the knockout stages of the Champions league and can top Group E if they defeat Bayern Munich in the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday evening.

The Amsterdammers are 13/5 to defeat Bayern and are 11/1 to claim a 2-1 victory, with Ajax 9/2 to keep a clean sheet against the German giants.

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Ajax vs Bayern Munich: It’s a Champions League Battle For the Top!

Ajax vs Bayern Munich

Both Ajax and Bayern Munich are through to the next round of the Champions League, but the fight is not yet over as the two proud clubs duke it out for the top spot and the bragging rights in Group E.

The Bavarians lead the group with 13 points after four wins and one draw, but they are only two points ahead of Ajax who have been sensational so far with three victories and a couple of stalemates.

An Ajax win will see the Dutchmen topple the German side from the summit, while a Bayern victory or draw will keep the reigning Bundesliga champions at the top heading to the knockout stages of the competition.

The game may be a dead rubber for some; however, make no mistake, with the top teams in European football all moving on, there’s a benefit from taking the no.1 ranking and getting a relatively easier draw next week.

Talking Points

Ajax unstoppable, Bayern rising

Ajax and Bayern are two of only six teams to stay undefeated through five games in the group stage, and their successes are no flukes.

Ajax have been one of the most consistent teams in European football this year, and the fact that they have won 13 of their last 15 matches—with the other two ending in a draw—shows how difficult it is to beat them.

The Dutch side last lost to Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven in September, and that remains their only defeat since the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign.

On the other hand, Bayern Munich seem to be finding their rhythm after a poor start to their campaign. The German champs are currently third in the Bundesliga and nine points adrift of Borussia Dortmund for the top spot, but they are trying to mount a commendable fightback after dropping all the way down to sixth.

Even more remarkable, they have won their last three games in all competitions. They thrashed Benfica in the UCL with five goals to one and followed it up with back-to-back Bundesliga victories against Werder Bremen and Nuremberg.

Ajax players remain positive to claim the group top spot when they battle Bayern in the Champions League

Ajax players celebrate following their 0-2 victory against AEK Athens in Champions League

These two sides played out a 1-1 draw in their first meeting this year, but with their recent performances and the stakes at hand, it’s not wrong to expect a highly entertaining and tightly contested affair at Amsterdam.

Dusan, Klaas-Jan and the deadly Ajax attack

Behind Ajax’s success is their offence led by the brilliant Dusan Tadic and the experienced Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Tadic, who played for Premier League club Southampton from 2014 to 2018, leads the team with 14 markers in all competitions. Meanwhile, former Schalke striker Huntelaar has already 13 goals to his name.

With the presence of the two, Ajax established themselves as one of the best attacking units in the Netherlands. They are second in the contest with the most goals scored, only behind PSV. Interestingly, in the Champions League, they have scored as many goals as Juventus, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Lewy’s on fire, but is there enough help?

Robert Lewandowski made the Champions League 2018 news headlines with his double against Benfica—a performance which propelled him alongside Lionel Messi as the competition’s joint top-scorers with six goals each.

Lewy also became only the seventh player to break the 50-goal barrier in UEFA’s top club competition, with his latest tally standing at 51.

However, while the Pole striker is on a tear offensively, there are concerns if he is enough to keep the Bavarians at the top.

Bayern Munich won’t be with some of their best players, with James Rodriguez sidelined due to a knee issue and Corentin Tolisso out with an ACL injury.

It’s also alarming that Arjen Robben—who teed up Mats Hummels for their opening goal versus Ajax last October—is doubtful to play because of a thigh issue.

Lewandowski is certainly a huge threat, but Niko Kovac will also need his other players to step up if they want to take all three points in this encounter.

History

The two teams have met nine times before, sharing a perfectly balanced record with three wins apiece and three draws.

As mentioned, their latest meeting ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Allianz Arena after Noussair Mazraoui cancelled out Hummels’ fourth-minute opener.

One interesting tidbit though: in the previous matches between the two clubs, the home team has always had the advantage. In fact, the visiting outfit has never won!

Betting Tip

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Ajax vs Bayern Munich Ajax 1X2 @ 3.70
December 13, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Compared to their previous match-up, I expect a winner this time. I’m just not sure if it will be Bayern, as what the Champions league 2018 betting odds at us suggest.

Ajax have proven that they can hold their ground against the best, and it’s always difficult to beat them at home (they haven’t lost a competitive fixture at Johan Cruyff Arena for more than a year now).

It’s also quite concerning that the Bavarians aren’t at their best, no thanks to injuries to some of their key players.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Champions League Review: Ajax Mount Second-Half Crushing of Benfica

Benfica 1-1 Ajax

I’m not sure if anyone pinned their hopes on Ajax making it far in the Champions League, but they are definitely impressing a lot of neutrals, pundits and us fans in the footballing world after their draw against Benfica.

Our top analyst wasn’t able to differentiate the two European giants, and he was right on the money. While the hosts dominated for much of the first half, the superb changes made by Erik den Hag in the second half showcased just how dominant this young (but talented) Ajax team is.

Highlights of the game

This game was an important match for Benfica as a defeat here would have all but relegate them to the Europa League knockout stages. While the Europa League is a great competition to watch, it doesn’t have the prestige and media attention offered by the Champions League.

Moreover, Rui Vitoria has his neck on the line ahead of this match. The Aguias have lost their last three games in all competitions, including this match’s reverse fixture that happened two weeks ago. Depending on how satisfied the Benfica board is of the 48-year-old’s efforts, this game at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica will be the last time he stands in charge.

The players seemed to understand the urgency of this match and started at the right foot. Franco Emmanuel Cervi latched to a superb pass deep in the Ajax’s penalty box and rifled a low-driven shot towards the left post. However, Andre Onana stepped up to the plate and spilt the ball outwards for a goal kick.

The subsequent corner from that run of play didn’t produce a goal, the hosts didn’t let up on the gas. Jonas endured a knock early on, but he was able to contribute to the Benfica attack alongside Ruben Dias and Alex Grimaldo. He was close to scoring in the 26th minute when he fired a powerful shot that grazed the wrong side of the left post.

Jonas' early goal in the first half gave Benfica hope to win their Champions League clash

Benfica’s Jonas fighting for the ball against Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt

He was soon able to get his team on the board a minute later. He got hold of a loose ball after an Onana error and fired towards the back of the net. Vitoria was obviously elated with the early development, and the entire Estadio didn’t hold back in letting the team know of their delight.

However, the young Ajax team didn’t panic and let their natural game flow. Hakim Ziyech had a great chance with a 38th-minute free kick. He sent the ball towards the bottom-right corner, but Odisseas Vlachodimos expertly predicted the ball’s trajectory and make a superb save.

Referee Gianluca Rocchi served out two yellow cards to Jonas and Matthijs de Ligt before the ending the half and sending all of the players to the showers. The overall mood at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica was on the up. The Champions League 2018 odds of them making it to the knockout stages were on the rise with their dominant display.

However, there’s one thing we should not doubt the wonderkid factory that is Ajax: their young stars will make their presence felt whether you like it or not.

And that’s exactly what they at the start of the reset. Besides the unfortunate injuries that took Eduardo Salvio and Jonas out of the match, the young guests have started stringing together nice short passes that started breaking down the defence.

Dusan Tadic eventually broke through for Lucky Ajax in the 61st minute. He was freed up by a precise Ziyech pass, rushed to the box and smashed a shot that broke through the Benfica stopper and headed to the goal.

From that point on, the pressure on the Benfica players could be felt. They started playing rough football, committing fouls that could have injured Ajax’s young players. Of course, both teams still tried attacking for the goal, but the defences of both sides were resolute.

Gabriel had a chance to steal the game at the death. A late scuffle in front of the Ajax goal saw the Brazilian with the ball. He powered the ball towards the middle of the goal, but his shot wasn’t able to go past Onana, who was the big hero for Ajax as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The air is uncertain in Lisbon. No one knows if Vitoria will still have this job at the end of the week. However, Ajax fans in the stadium are elated. They don’t know if this result or their draw with Bayern Munich is the biggest of the Champions League 2018 results they have had.

Key statistics

Onana was the embodiment of the Lucky Ajax ahead of the match, but his seven goalkeeper saves were not acquired due to luck. The 22-year-old was simply outstanding in between the sticks. While it was a shame that he didn’t save Jonas’ opener, he did enough to earn Man of the Match honours in my book.

Benfica looked like they were outsmarted by Ajax during the second match. They weren’t able to convert their four shots on target. Moreover, their 10 fouls during the half showed just how unsure they were of the opponents they were facing.

What’s next?

Under-fire boss Rui Vitoria only managed to get a Champions League draw for his Benfica squad

Benfica boss Rui Vitoria gestures to his squad during their match against Ajax in the Champions League

Benfica have a tall order to complete if they want to stay in the Champions League race: they have to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. In order to build up some form, they need to win against Tondela in the Primeira Liga and Arouca in the Taca de Portugal.

Meanwhile, Ajax will be hoping to extend their superb unbeaten form by taking down Excelsior and NAC Breda in the Eredivisie. Their next Champions League opponent will be AEK Athens in what should be a manageable matchup.

 

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Champions League : Ajax Aims to Finish the Job

Benfica vs Ajax

There’s a whole lot at stake in Lisbon on Wednesday, when Erik ten Hag’s flying Dutchmen will try to deal a knockout blow to Benfica in a massive Euro clash.

Champions League, Benfica vs Ajax at the Estadio Da Luz is the big game in a group which also contains FC Bayern and AEK Athens, and a win for the visitors would see them through to the next stage while almost certainly knocking out their hosts.

Ajax sits proudly at the top of Group E alongside FC Bayern, but Benfica is still in the hunt, and a win on Wednesday will lift the Encarnardo’s to within a point of second place.

The latest Benfica vs Ajax odds slightly favour the hosts, but current form is very much in the Dutch corner. They may be from the lesser leagues, but make no mistake; these are two giants of European football.

Talking points

Benfica manager Rui Vitoria is contracted to stay in Lisbon until 2020 but the Encarnardos have been having a tricky time of it in recent weeks, and have already been beaten by Ajax in this competition. A 1-3 defeat at the weekend to Moreirense was hardly the warm up Vitoria wanted for this crucial Champions League clash. It leaves his team fourth in the table and four points off the top of a league they should be leading.

Can Jonas Oliviera make it Benfica vs Ajax highlights?

Jonas Oliviera are eager to continue scoring for Benfica as they face Ajax

It was a particularly disappointing day for the home fans after striker Jonas had put them ahead in the second minute. But Benfica shipped three first half goals before skipper Jardel was sent off in the second half. These two Brazilians are so influential for Benfica. The 32 year old captain is a big presence in defence, standing at 6 ft 4 in tall he’s been an uncompromising figure at the club for seven seasons, and also poses an attacking threat from set pieces.

Meanwhile Jonas has been prolific, scoring almost a goal a game since his arrival from Valencia in 2014. He passed the 100 goals mark for Benfica in just 114 games.

But the big news in Lisbon at the moment is the soaring value of 18 year old midfielder Joao Felix, tracked by Chelsea and already valued at £45m, he is reportedly about to be offered a new contract with a £109m release clause.

This Ajax team is beginning to attract attention outside the Eredivisie and we’ve been keeping an eye on Ten Hag’s side here at us. They are on an impressive run of form, winning their last five games, scoring 15 goals and conceding none, and before that they earned a Champions league draw with FC Bayern.

Noussair Mazraoui scored the equaliser as the Dutch matched the Bundesliga champions at the Allianz Arena. And that means he has two goals in the tournament, as has Nicolas Tagliafico. The Argentine full back bagged a brace in a win over AEK Athens and he’s admired by big some players in European football, including Arsenal’s head coach Unai Emery.

Tagliafico started all of Argentina’s games at Russia 2018, and has captained his nation in Leo Messi’s absence. He has become Ajax best defender, winning crucial tackles and rarely giving the ball away. Ten Hag has more proven quality in his squad.

Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind have both impressed, at times, in the Premier League, for Southampton and Manchester United, While Frenkie de Jong is improving all the time in midfield.

History

These are two proud clubs with rich traditions in their domestic leagues. Benfica’s golden period was in the sixties, when they won eight Primeira Ligas, inspired by the great Eusebio, the only player to win a Ballon D’Or for a Portuguese club. Meanwhile Ajax has dominated the Eridivisie for decades.

Both teams have fine European pedigrees too, Benfica winning the European Cup twice and finishing runner up five times, while Ajaxi has won Europe’s premier competition four times while reaching the final a further two.

Ajax comes into this fixture on the crest of a wave with five consecutive wins and an undefeated away run of four, including three victories. But Benfica has lost the last three, including the defeat in Amsterdam, but did win the three previous games.

Ten Hag’s outfit has the edge in the head to heads with two wins to the Portuguese team’s one. And the most famous clash of all came in 1972 when Johann Cruyff’s Ajax put Benfica out of the European Cup at the semi-final stage.

This promises to be a fascinating clash, and you’ll get all the best Benfica vs Ajax highlights right here at us.

Betting tip

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Benfica vs Ajax Over 2.50 goals @ 1.95
November 8, 04:00 (GMT+8)

This is a really tight game to call with the hosts marginal favourites at 2.49 to win, with Ajax at 2.86 and the draw available at 3.15.

Ajax is the form side, but both teams can be destructive on their day. I see an attacking game as the Dutch team try to secure their place in the next round.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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