Ajax - Real Madrid Preview: Draw enough to send hosts through to knockout stages for first time since 2005
Frank de Boer's men welcome the Spanish table-toppers, who have already sealed the group up, as they look for the point that will be enough to see them into the next stage
By Stefan Coerts
V' der Wiel, Alderw'd, Vertonghen, Anita
Enoh, Eriksen, Janssen
Sulejmani, Lodeiro, Ebecilio
Arbeloa, Albiol, Varane, Coentrao
Xabi Alonso, Sahin
Altintop, Kaka, Callejon
Ajax coach Frank de Boer will still have to make do without the services of defenders Nicolai Boilesen and Bruno Silva due to injury, while midfielder Siem de Jong and striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson are unavailable as well. Furthermore, winger Derk Boerrigter is doubtful due to ongoing back problems and is unlikely to feature.
However, full-back Gregory van der Wiel is expected to return to the match squad after a brief injury lay-off and will start at right back, while Dmitry Bulykin could also make his comeback to the match squad again.
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is expected to rest several key players for Wednesday's encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA, meaning that reserves such as Antonio Adan, Raul Albiol and Hamit Altintop could all get some playing time.
Full-back Alvaro Arbeloa hasn't featured since suffering a hamstring injury in the 3-2 win at Valencia on November 19, but has resumed regular training and could return to the starting XI. Kaka made his comeback from injury against Sporting Gijon and is likely to feature from the start against Ajax.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Ajax have collected only five yellow cards so far, the lowest total in the competition.
- The meeting with Madrid will mark a year and one day since Frank de Boer replaced Martin Jol at the helm; his first game was a 2-0 Champions League victory over AC Milan on 8 December 2010.
- Ajax were beaten 4-0 at home by Madrid in the 2010-11 edition of the Champions League, despite the fact that the guests ended the match with nine man after red cards for Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos.
- Real Madrid are the only team that have been able to find the net against Ajax in Europe this season.
- The Blancos are just one win shy of their club record of 15 consecutive victories in all competitions, set in 1960-61.
- Madrid recorded their 250th win in Uefa competitions on matchday five.
How do you stay up to date with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com – your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Sign up today with Coral and get a £50 FREE bet - no strings attached!|
|Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
|Sign up with Betway for a £50 free bet!|
Top 3 Predictions
Ajax 0-3 Real Madrid
- 17.63 %
Ajax 0-2 Real Madrid
- 15.82 %
Ajax 1-3 Real Madrid
- 14.46 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||4 Dec 2012||Real Madrid 4 - Ajax 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||3 Oct 2012||Ajax 1 - Real Madrid 4|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||7 Dec 2011||Ajax 0 - Real Madrid 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||27 Sep 2011||Real Madrid 3 - Ajax 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||23 Nov 2010||Ajax 0 - Real Madrid 4|
|19 Dec 2013||IJsselmeervogels 0 - Ajax 3||NEDC|
|15 Dec 2013||sc Cambuur 1 - Ajax 2||ERE|
|11 Dec 2013||AC Milan 0 - Ajax 0||UCL|
|7 Dec 2013||Ajax 4 - NAC Breda 0||ERE|
|1 Dec 2013||ADO Den Haag 0 - Ajax 4||ERE|
|23||Gregory van der Wiel||Defender|
|34||Ricardo van Rhijn||Defender|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
Vermeer has had his fair share of criticism in Amsterdam since replacing Maarten Stekelenburg between the sticks at Ajax, but the goalkeeper single-handedly kept his side's chances of reaching the knockout stages alive with a superb performance in Lyon. The former Netherlands Under-21 star will be keen to put in a another strong display in order to seal the deal against Madrid.
The Turkey international had high hopes ahead of his move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid, but a knee injury has prevented him from making an impact at his new club so far. Sahin will probably get the chance to prove his worth in the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday, and the holding midfielder will be desperate to show that he has what it takes to succeed at Madrid.
The Amsterdam side know that a draw will be enough to book their ticket for the knockout stages, while even a small loss will be enough to stay ahead of Olympique Lyonnais. However, Real Madrid have been in absolutely stunning form in the past few months and although the guests are expected to rest some key players, they still have plenty of individual talent. They should win, but Ajax may still progress.