Champions League 2018/19: Ajax thrash Real Madrid in an entertaining fixture
There are two ways you can beat a world class side like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City, and even if you do execute the plan to perfection, you could end up short-handed due to the mere quality of the opposition.
The first one was infamously executed Jose's Inter Milan side in 2010, where he employed highly structured defensive tactics to protect his lead against Barcelona after one of their men was shown a red card. This plan worked and Inter went on to win the Champions League that season. This is the plan employed by most managers against world class teams, as they know they wouldn't stand a chance if they stood toe-to-toe with them.
The second one however, is highly unlikely. It involves sending your team out there to outplay your opposition and stand toe-to-toe with them. If your team wins, it is because you played better them on the night and that is exactly what Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has done against Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 fixture.
Ajax completely outplayed Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu and deserved to win the match. They played the game with ruthless aggression and were simply better than the opposition on the night. They played so well that they ended scoring 4 and winning the fixture with an aggregate score of 5-3.
The Dutch club pressed high from the beginning and completely nullified the presence of Toni Kroos and Casemiro in the first half of the game. Real Madrid couldn't handle the pressure and Ajax reaped the rewards through a Hakim Ziyech goal in the seventh minute of the game. This was followed up by a goal from young winger David Neres, who put the finishing touch to a wonderful dribble and pass from Dusan Tadic.
Dusan Tadic then added to the scoreline with a beautiful goal in the 62nd minute, which was controversial due to the fact that many believed the ball had been put out of play before the build up to the goal. Marco Asensio pulled one back for Madrid with a tidy finish to ignite their chances of getting back into the game.
However, their hopes was extinguished through a wonder free kick by Lasse Schone who made the scoreline 1-4. This meant that Real had to score 3 goals in the last 18 minutes to progress to the next stage of the competition. This was unlikely to happen and the scoreline remained 1-4 at the end of the game.
Ajax played some outstanding football and simply wanted it more than their rivals at the end of the night. It's been 22 years since Ajax progressed through a knockout stage tie - the last being in the 1996/1997 campaign, where they prevailed over Atletico Madrid (ironically) in the quarter finals. Ajax's last victory over Real Madrid was in the November 1995 Champions League fixture, which ended 2-0. Evidently, the odds and the stats were stacked against them, but they have come away with a victory which they will cherish forever.
Real Madrid will now focus on cutting down the gap between them and league leaders Barcelona to end their season as high as possible. Ajax will be hoping to take this wonderful run as far as possible and maybe even cause an upset by winning the Champions League( which is still very tough, of course).