Real Madrid 1-4 (3-5 on agg.) Ajax
The dignity of being a Champions League winner means that the defending champions will always be expected to make a deep run to defend their title. This statement rings truer if your club is a giant like Real Madrid.
While Los Blancos have had an underwhelming season thus far, their most passionate fans hoped that the team would at least gather around Santiago Solari and come away with a fourth consecutive European title.
They came to the second leg of their Round-of-16 tie against Ajax with an away-goal advantage, and many bookies tipped them to crawl past their Dutch opponents. However, Lucky Ajax turned the script and gave the Madridistas a week’s worth of games and Champions League 2019 highlights that they’d rather forget.
Highlights of the game
Madrid already looked more vulnerable in the back due to the absence of their captain, Sergio Ramos. While Nacho, Raphael Varane and Casemiro still look like a formidable defensive core, not a single soul in the Santiago Bernabeu thought that the team is better without No 4 commandeering the ball from Ajax.
Ramos’ decision to clear his bookings immediately bit Madrid in the rear when Ajax immediately notched the first of their four goals. A slow build-up from Ajax quickly accelerated to a blitz to Madrid’s final third. Casemiro was too far up the pitch, leaving the middle of the danger box open for Hakim Ziyech to receive Dusan Tadic’s pass and slot it past Thibaut Courtois.
Ajax star Dusan Tadic battles for the ball against Real Madrid’s Casemiro during their Champions League last 16 tie
The entire stadium began worrying about their chances as Ajax looked a lot dangerous moving forward. Toni Kroos had several chances after Ziyech’s 7th-minute goal, but both of those efforts weren’t enough to give Madrid the advantage.
Madrid’s misfortune doubled when Tadic was once again the architect for another great Ajax goal. The ball was glued to his feet as he cruised towards the goal without a Madrid shirt pressuring and dispossessing him. He set David Neres up in a beautiful spot, and the Brazilian managed to beat Courtois and convert the go-ahead strike.
The us Champions League markets are rattled by the development, and the Real Madrid vs Ajax odds began to quickly turn in favour of the guests. Junior Vinicius fired a long-range shot in the 23rd minute to stem the tide of poor form, but Andre Onana was there for the save.
Solari’s night then went from bad to worse when both Lucas and Junior Vinicius couldn’t carry on due to injuries. Gareth Bale, Madrid’s polarizing figure, and Marco Asensio came in as replacements. The Wales international had a chance to even up the aggregate score in the 42nd minute, but the left post denied him of a goal.
The second half looked more encouraging for Madrid as Los Blancos started the reset more positively. Marco Asensio had a shot at glory in the 49th minute, but his shot went wide of the left post. Karim Benzema also had a great individual effort 10 minutes later, but Lucky Ajax didn’t give him enough room as the shot went just wide of the right post.
A flurry of goals then followed starting from the 62nd minute onwards. Tadic, who has made his impact felt throughout the game. A brilliant tackle to dispossess Sergio Reguilon became a quick counter that ended with the Serbian forward firing home a brilliant shot to the top-left corner.
Marco Asensio gave the quiet Santiago Bernabeu crowd reasons to cheer when he finally denied Ajax of a clean sheet. His first-time shot inside the box got past Onana, and the stands jumped to life. They probably hoped that a comeback is in the cards.
Watford Asian Handicap +2.25 @ 2.01 Total Goals 4-6 @ 2.10 Over 3.50 @ 1.89CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League
However, Lasse Schone killed off those hopes in the 72nd minute when he launched a beautiful free-kick close to the left corner. There was nothing Courtois could do as the ball curled beautifully towards the net. Nacho’s ejection deep in added time did nothing but adding insult to injury.
Nobody expected such a lopsided result to happen against Real Madrid, but the other half of Madrid probably celebrated in their rivals’ misery. The match was so surprising that Luis Suarez took to Twitter to express his love for his former club.
Ajax’s decision to have their Eredivisie game moved for this match was a smart decision, and the stats show just how well Ajax played. Real Madrid had more time with the ball at 56% and produced more goal attempts, but Ajax had a better on-target ratio (8 out of 16 shots were on target compared to Madrid’s 7-of-20).
Future Barcelona man Frenkie de Jong was also outstanding for Ajax. The man was told by his future club to take down Madrid in the Champions League, and he did just that. With his 91% pass succession and 00% aerial and tackling rates, the Bernabeu would have a lot to fear when he finally makes the jump to Catalan.
This match saw Madrid fall out of three major competitions. Barcelona knocked them out in the Copa del Rey and the La Liga title last week, and this loss prevented them from trying for a Champions League four-peat. To make matters worse, they are 1-8 when you combine the aggregate scores of these three games.
Real Madrid fans show support for the club during their Champions League battle against Ajax
Los Blancos are no longer the Galacticos, and it will be a tough pill to swallow for Madrid. With no real competitions left to compete for, they must pick up the pace and start a winning run in the league. Their games against Real Valladolid and Celta Vigo give them the opportunity.
Meanwhile, Ajax are on a four-game winning run in all competitions. It seems nothing can stop them now, and Fortuna Sittard and PEC Zwolle can only hope to chip on their mighty form. They will now wait for the rest of the knockout games to pan out before they find out who their opponents in the Last Eight are.
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