UEFA Champions League 2018-19: 3 reasons why Ajax will lose to Juventus in the quarterfinals
The stage is set for the quarterfinals of the Champions League and all teams are in full throttle with verve and class ready to prove their qualifications to the quarterfinals and their determinations to win and not being pushovers in the competition. One of the sleeping heroes of Europe is finally back.
Many may have forgotten the impact of Ajax in the Champions League until the reigning champion's humbling at their feet. They proved their mettle and pedigree against Bayern Munich in the group stage by holding them to a draw on both occasions and Real Madrid in the second leg like a real European powerhouse who have awoken from their slumber.
Their youthful exuberance and vigour showed against a much more experienced but tired Real Madrid side who were humiliated 4-1 at the Bernabeu in the second leg even though they defeated them 2-1 in the first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena, inflicting their first loss of the competition on them this season.
Juventus are also one of the teams that qualified for the quarterfinals after a hard-fought victory against Atletico Madrid in the second leg. Just like their next opposition, they overturned a first-leg deficit to qualify for the quarterfinals.
After navigating past the group stage, facing Atletico in the second round was going to be a tough match but with Cristiano Ronaldo, the Serie A giants have the deadliest Champions League weapon. They were defeated 2-0 in the first leg of the competition and were already steering at elimination until the Portuguese' hat trick scaled them through in the return leg in Turin.
Ajax and Juventus have been paired in the quarterfinals of the UCL this season. One might be tempted to think that Juventus would have an easy ride against Ajax because of their absence at this stage since the 2002-2003 season.
However, Ajax is a successful side in the Champions League, winning the competition four times compared to Juventus's two and might be having an unfinished battle of supremacy between them after meeting twice in the finals of the tournament in 1973 and 1996 winning one apiece.
Since their last meeting though, Juventus have grown a lot; becoming the supreme power in Italy for the past seven seasons and are leading the pack in the Italian top flight once again this term as they charge towards their eighth successive scudetto.
They are obsessed with winning the Champions League after their domestic dominance over these years and their recruitment is geared towards that motive with many ambitious recruitments including Cristiano Ronaldo - an experienced and perennial winner with four champions league medals in five seasons with Real Madrid, whose obsession with winning matches with that of Juventus.
Despite the fact that Ajax are a historic side in the Champions League, Juventus are well poised to get the better of them when the sides meet in April and below are 3 reasons why.
Experience is a luxury and a big recipe for success in the Champions League. It counts a great deal and that is one thing associated with big teams and players who have won it many times. Ajax and Juventus have a great deal of experience in the UCL since its inception.
Both have won the trophy a combined of six times with Ajax winning it four times and Juventus winning it two times. Juventus have made it to the final seven times thereby becoming the team with more final appearances.
Between these two giants, they have played 12 champions league games with Ajax winning two, losing 6 times and drawing four times.
However, recent statistics show that the current Juventus players are older and more experienced than the current crop of players at Ajax. Juventus have been performing consistently in the competition since the 2011-2012 season while the last time Ajax appeared in the second round was the 2002/2003 campaign.
The average age of the current Ajax team stands at 24.0 as compared to that of Juventus at 28.6. This shows the great difference in experience among the two teams and going by history, the brewing talent and confidence in the current Ajax team might not be enough to carry them through to the next stage of the competition.