Ajax takes on Juventus this week in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in the Johan Cruyff Arena. Juventus might be strong favorites, but Ajax is one of the best teams to watch currently in world football. They pulled one of the great European comebacks when they beat Real Madrid last month.
These are two of Europe’s greatest clubs, and the mood in Amsterdam on Wednesday is going to be electrifying. They are polar counterparts in how they are driven and how they are viewed by neutrals. It will be interesting to see if Ajax can pull off another shock in a Champions League campaign already full of them?
These two sides have been on a rollercoaster of sentiments since entering the competition. However, Ajax started their Champions League journey way back in July in the second qualification round. Since then, they have conquered Benfica and drawn twice with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, including a 3-3 draw in which both sides went down to ten men.
It was in the round of 16 that they really made a statement of intention, as their side came back from a 2-1 home loss to beat reigning champions Real Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabeu to amaze the footballing world.
Juventus might have had an easier group stage, but they lost at home to Manchester United and away at Young Boys. A poor display against Atletico Madrid seemed to have ended their hopes for another year.
That was before Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable hat-trick sent the Old Lady through an exciting fashion. The main aim of Juventus signing the 34-year-old Portuguese megastar for over £100m from Real Madrid was to conquer the Champions League.
It’s tough to believe that Italy’s most flourishing domestic club have only won Europe’s top prize twice in their famous history, with their last triumph being 23 years ago.
Ronaldo is in Turin to improve that in the very near future. He holds the record of five Champions League titles being just ahead of Lionel Messi’s four triumphs. It is better to believe that Ronaldo will be extreme to cement his place as the competition’s greatest ever player.
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