After what seemed like an impossible task, Ajax managed to defeat Real Madrid 1:4 at Santiago Bernabeu, which ended an era and started a new and promising Champions League campaign for the Netherland side, who are hoping this year will be the year they will get to lift their 5th Champions League trophy.
March 5th marked the day when we had a chance to see a football version of David and Goliath when the 13th time Champions League title winners Real Madrid faced off against the 4-time Champions League title winners Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of 1/8 finals. The first round, which took place in Amsterdam ended in a 1:2 win for the Spanish side and the whole world expected the Los Blancos to advance and once again threaten to finish at the top of Europe. But as we know now, this was not the case. Ajax stunned their opponents and fans all over the world with an impressive performance, which resulted in them eliminating the kings of Europe with a humiliating defeat (1:4).
After trashing the 13 time Champion League winners, we need to ask ourselves how far can this Netherland team go, and could 2019 possibly be the year they get to lift their 5th Champions League trophy? It may seem silly to assume a club like Ajax can end up at the top, but then again, it was also “silly” to assume they have a chance against Real Madrid, let alone trash them 4:1. Like anything, we need to approach this question step by step, and the first step is to figure out if Ajax can defeat Juventus in the quarter-finals.
Edwin van der Sar one of the football legends and now the chief executive at Ajax shared his own thoughts about the topic. As a player, he played for both teams. He won the Champions League with Ajax and spent two seasons at the Italian giant, so his input on the topic has some weight. When asked what he feels about Ajax chances to advance into the next stage, Van der Sar stated:
“We’re happy to be in the quarter-finals. We played at a high level against Real in Madrid and we hope to do that again against Juve in Amsterdam.”
“The players are confident. They can beat Juve. We have a young team we’ve added experience too.”
“We’re still in the Champions League and we can beat Juventus, having beaten Real Madrid and played in matches like the one against Bayern, which gave us great confidence.”
On the other side, another football legend, former Juventus player and Juventus director Pavel Nedved praised Ajax and stated he does not feel like Juventus will have an easy time facing them in the quarterfinals. In an interview he stated:
“I’m neither happy nor sad. Ajax eliminated Madrid so they are no joke. I liked them a lot against Madrid so we will have to be very careful. We will have to face Ajax with great commitment: I expect two great games.”
While it’s hard to deny Juventus are a far better team on the paper, the morale boost and desire to win just might be enough for Ajax to surprise the Italian champions. The fact that they managed to defeat Real Madrid in a humiliating fashion needs to be considered and any underestimating of the Netherlands team just might come back and bite any team they will face. If you don’t believe me, just ask Real Madrid. So to answer the question; Can Ajax eliminate Juventus? They can, but I would not put my money on it.