All to play for as Ajax travel to Juventus in quarter-final second-leg


Ajax face a tough challenge ahead as they play Juventus at the Allianz Arena in their Champions League second-leg encounter.

The first-leg score finished 1-1 as Cristiano Ronaldo netted an all-important away goal for the Italians, tricky winger David Neres levelled the scoring early in the second half, however, meaning that it is all to play for in this fixture.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri kept one eye on Tuesday’s fixture as decided to rest several of his key players against SPAL.

Italian Moise Kean opened the scoring for Juve in the 30th minute but, a fantastic coming from SPAL saw them beat the Italian giants 2-1. Goals from Kevin Bonifazi in the 49th minute and Sergio Floccari gave the home team a much needed three points and their first Serie A victory over Juventus since 1957.

Allegri spoke about Ronaldo being a key player in the fixture and also about the attitude and mentality that the players need to have in order to advance further in the tournament. He said:

“Cristiano has extraordinary quality. In certain moments he becomes an unstoppable player and you can see it on his face.

“The result of the first leg doesn’t count for anything.

“It’s a one-off game and we need to play with the same attitude as we did against Atletico.

“We need to have a lot of respect for Ajax in defence and precise in our movements.”

Where as for Ajax, they hosted 17th place Excelsior in the Eredivise with Amsterdam club knowing a win would put them to the top of the table.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar gave Ajax an early lead in the tenth minute, Dusan Tadic later double Ajax’s lead and Huntelaar added another goal to give the Amsterdam club a good advantage. Excelsior pulled one back in the 42nd minute to make the score 3-1 going into half-time.

A strong second-half saw Tadic score his second of the game in the 60th minute, Huntelaar completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute to become Ajax’s oldest hat-trick scorer at 35 and substitute Kasper Dolberg added a sixth with midfielder Jeffry Fortes scoring a goal in the 89th minute for Excelsior but, ultimately Ajax won the game 6-2 to return to the top of the table. Ajax’s biggest worry is about midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who hurt his hamstring in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Excelsior. Ajax’s coach Erik ten Hag said they are confident that the midfielder will play and, also spoke on being optimistic that his side can cause another upset. He said:

“Frenkie himself will have to decide if he is ready, and eventually I decide if he will play,” said Ten Hag.

“I’m confident because of the way we are playing and training.

“We are stronger and we are showing it game by game,” he said.

“Juventus are the favourites, especially after the Amsterdam result.

“If we play well, we can overcome any limit.”

Team News

Martin Cacares, Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic and Mattia Perin are unlikely to feature for Juventus having picked up small knocks recently.

Frankie de Jong may not be ready to play for Ajax after a hamstring injury he sustained on Saturday. Defender Nicolas Tagliafico is unavailable due to suspension.


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