No risks for Mourinho as Real Madrid face Ajax
Madrid - Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will introduce changes for his side’s Champions League match at home against Ajax Tuesday night.
With his side already qualified for the next stage of the competition but with few options of finishing top of their group, Mourinho’s attention will turn to ensuring he is able to field his strongest possible side when the knockout stage of the competition starts in the new year, reports Xinhua.
That means midfielder Xabi Alonso and defender Sergio Ramos, both of whom have picked up two bookings this campaign in Europe, will be rested to ensure they don’t pick up a third yellow card and subsequent suspension.
That should open the door for young defender Rafael Varene to return at the back while Luka Modric plays in central midfield where he has so far struggled to live up to his 40 million euro price tag.
Mourinho may consider other changes such as bringing Javier Callejon in for Angel de Maria and even giving young striker Alvaro Morata a chance in place of Karim Benzema as Gonzalo Higuain continues with his recovery from injury.
The mood in the club changed for the better following Saturday’s 2-0 win over Atletico in the Madrid derby but failure to defeat an Ajax side, who Madrid beat easily in Amsterdam earlier this season, would again set the alarm bells ringing.
The Dutch side have no chance of qualifying for the next phase of the Champions League but still have a good chance of reaching the consolation prize of the last 32 of the Europa League ahead of Manchester City.
Coach Frank de Boer has said he will field the same side which played PSV Eindhoven in the weekend and says his side are travelling with the sole aim of trying to win in Real Madrid’s home territory.
Malaga are also in action Tuesday night and coach Manuel Pellegrini will make wholesale changes to a side that is already assured of qualifying for the last 16 as group winners.
Malaga looked tired as they slipped to a 0-1 defeat in Getafe Saturday and players such as Joaquin Sanchez, Javier Saviola and Izco will all be rested with Roque Santa Cruz and Seba Fernandez starting against Belgian side Anderlecht.