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Ajax vs Juventus: Champions League quarter-final preview

Dutch four-time winners Ajax will face Italian Champions Juventus in the quarter finals of the Champions league.

The two sides have played each other on 12 occasions in European competitions, most notably in the 1996 Champions league final, where a 1-1 draw resulted in a penalty shoot-out in which the Bianconeri triumphed 4-2 winners. 

Ajax will play in the quarter finals for the first since 2002-03. They are the first Dutch side to reach this stage since PSV Eindhoven in 2006-2007.

Juventus, in contrast, have played in the quarter finals in three out of the previous four years, but are hoping to bring the champions league title home for the first time in 23 years.

Ajax will host the first leg in Amsterdam before the second leg takes place in Turin. The first fixture will be on either April 9/10 or April 16/17.

This battle sees the young face the experienced. Ajax have had a younger starting XI on average (24 years, 202 days) in the Champions League this season than any other side left in the competition. They go up against a Juventus side who are relatively familiar with the quarter finals, with 34-year-old star man Ronaldo having netted 124 Champions League goals in his career.

Both clubs had tough routes to get here. Ajax had an emphatic comeback after losing 1-2 to Real Madrid on home turf, to then knock out the defending champions 1-4 at the Bernabeu in the last 16. They became the first team since Juventus in 2015 to defeat Los blancos in the Champions League.

Prior to this, they were unbeaten in the group stage, including with draws at home and away against Bayern Munich.

Juventus’s journey has also involved a crucial comeback. Having lost away at the Wanda Metropolitano 2-0 against Altetico Madrid, one of footballs greats, Cristiano Ronaldo, scored a hat trick at home to turn it around.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite not conceding a single goal in the group stage, including a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, Ronaldo was yet to score for the old lady until that last 16 victory.

Players to watch:

Ajax: Frenkie de Jong: The 21-year-old has vision and skill that left Luca Modric for dead in their victory over Real Madrid.

Dustan Tadic: Setting up David Neres twice in 18 minutes against Real Madrid, this player was a key contributor to Ajax’s progression into the quarters.

Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi. The Italian winger played a pivotal role in assisting Cristiano Ronaldo in the clash against Altetico.

Cristiano Ronaldo: The match winner in the last 16, this man makes any team he plays for serious contendors.

It is youth versus experience

The Italian side have been close to securing the Champions League title, they were runners up in 2014/15 and 2016/17, however are hoping that the recruiting of Cristiano Ronaldo can push them over the edge. Will their desire to end a 23-year drought become even closer after the quarters.

Ajax have a flying young team. They came into this tie knowing that having just beaten Real Madrid, they can beat anyone.

Prediction:

Juventus comfortable winners, likely to win both games.

The winners of this tie will subsequently face Tottenham or Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Featured photograph: Getty-images

Tatiana Alderson
Tatiana is a 22 year old University of Exeter graduate from London. After finishing Uni in 2017 she spent the year freelancing at Sky News as an Interview Producer and travelling around South America, Japan and Australia. She still freelances at Sky, but needs an NCTJ and Sports Journalism qualification in order to get out of news and into the sports world for good, where her passion ultimately lies.
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