UEFA Champions League 2018-19: 5 reasons why Ajax could still win their tie at Santiago Bernabeu
Ajax hosted Real Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League RO16 tie on Wednesday night. The 13-time Champions must have been confident coming into the game, more due to the fact that Ajax's performances against Feyenoord, Heerenveen, and Heracles were utterly pathetic.
But for some odd reason, the Ajax that showed up at Johan Cruyff Arena against Real Madrid was not the same that had lost to a mid-table team just days ago.
The young Ajax team played a beautiful, flamboyant, fearless football against the Spanish and European heavyweights. Real Madrid were surely caught by surprise by Ajax's synergy as their toils on the pitch suggested.
However, at the end of the day, the spirited Ajax side fell to a 2-1 defeat at home which now leaves them with an uphill task to overturn the tie at Santiago Bernabeu.
Can the Dutch side overturn the side in Spain? We were impressed by the performance from the Dutch side, at least I was. So we shall look at why the energetic group organized by Erik Ten Hag has a chance to go through, even if they are facing Madrid at Bernabeu.
#5 Ajax came mighty close first game
This is the obvious reason to back the Dutch side. Against the expectation of many people, Ajax came out guns blazing in the first game against Madrid. They not only had control of the game, but they were also consistent in their press and passing game.
The young Ajax side had a great passing network and it has to be said that they performed better in the middle of the park than the Spaniards.
What went against Ajax was endurance and patience. In the second half, the young Ajax side wasn't as dominant as they were in the first and Madrid was quick to punish them when they let the guard down.
The Dutch side, however, managed to get a goal, had a goal ruled out controversially by VAR which UEFA later explained on twitter, and they were also unlucky not to have the foul called on de Jong during the build-up to the second goal.
We aren't saying that Madrid was favoured, we are saying Ajax were unlucky. And they were also lucky to not get Ziyech ruled out of the second leg. (Please don't fill the comments section with arguments) But we saw a vibrant Ajax side who made Madrid toil. Madrid did weather the storm, but the storm can surely travel places. How about the Bernabeu for a stop?