UEFA Champions League

Champions League Round of 16 – Ajax v Real Madrid

The 18-year-old Brazilian, signed from Flamengo in a deal worth £38.7m, has started the last two games, relegating Gareth Bale to the bench. Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior is expected to start Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Ajax.

“His adaptation has been very fast,” Real manager Santiago Solari said. “He has adapted to a new country, a new culture, a different type of football. “He has shown his talent but we have to take care of him.”

Solari could field the starting 11 that beat Atletico Madrid at the weekend, leaving no room for Bale despite the Wales international scoring his 100th goal for the club in that game.

They are without Jesus Vallejo and Luca Zidane who are still sidelined with hamstring problems, while Marcos Llorente is out with a groin injury and Isco has not recovered from a back and neck issue.

Ajax is likely to start with top scorer Dusan Tadic, who has 22 goals in all competitions this season, 11 of those coming in his last 12 games. The Dutch side, who are second in the Eredivisie, have lost two of their last three league games, including a humiliating 6-2 defeat to Feyenoord.

Matthijs de Ligt, 19, and Barcelona-bound Frankie de Jong are also fit to play in the club’s first Champions League knockout game in 13 years.

Real Madrid

Following Ajax’s 1-0 loss to Heracles on Saturday, De Ligt said: “We cannot afford to play as we did against Heracles. If we do so we will be slaughtered. For Ajax to be outplayed by Heracles is scandalous.”

Milestone for Ramos

Real are chasing their fourth consecutive Champions League title, with captain Sergio Ramos leading the team in each of those triumphs.

The 32-year-old defender will again lead his side out against Ajax in what will be his 600th appearance for the club since arriving as an 18-year-old from Sevilla in 2005.

“He has been and remains a fantastic captain,” said Scolari. “I think it’s brilliant how he carries out his job as leader, which isn’t an easy one.”

Ajax looking for first win over Madrid in seven attempts – the stats

  • Ajax have lost their last six games in European competition against Real Madrid, scoring only two goals and conceding 20. Ajax’s last victory against the Merengues dates back to November 1995, a 2-0 Champions League group stage victory at the Bernabeu with goals from Jari Litmanen and Patrick Kluivert.
  • Ajax were one of five teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, along with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Lyon and Porto.
  • Ten of Ajax’s 11 goals in this season’s Champions League have been scored in the second half (91%). Meanwhile, 80% of goals conceded by the Dutch side have come from a set-piece (4 out of 5).
  • Real Madrid have won the Champions League four times in the last five seasons. Juventus were the last team to eliminate Real in a Champions League knockout phase, back in the 2014/15 semi-finals.
  • Real Madrid have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the 22nd consecutive season, a record run in the history of the competition. This includes making it to the semis in each of the last eight campaigns, also a record run.
  • Real Madrid had more shots (120) and touches inside the opposition box (237) than any other team in this season’s Champions League group stages.

Source: BBC News

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