Friday, April 19, 2019

Prediction: Juventus vs Ajax

Verdict: Juventus to qualify and Cristiano Ronaldo to score anytime

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

Juventus welcome Ajax to Turin on Tuesday night with their Champions League quarter-final tie hanging in the balance.

Juventus

Starting with the hosts, although Massimiliano Allegri done what was expected and made a number of changes for the Old Lady’s trip to SPAL last weekend the Italian would have been far from happy with Juventus’ 2-1 defeat on Saturday. While the Serie A giants did taste just their second domestic defeat of the season they hold a 17-point buffer at the top of Italy’s top-tier and are within touching distance of reclaiming their league crown. Coming past La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid in dramatic fashion earlier in the month, many around the Allianz believe Juve are a leading contender to lift their first European crown in 23 years. Unsurprisingly, one man to watch on Tuesday will be leading goalscorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Finding the net in Juve’s 1-1 draw in Amsterdam last week and also bagging a hat-trick against Atletico in the previous round, the 34-year-old has 25 goals across all competitions this season. The Old Lady will also be boosted by their impressive record against the Dutch outfit. Allegri’s side are unbeaten in their past 10 meetings with Ajax, the joint longest run for one side against another in European matches.

Team News

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and striker Mario Mandzukic (knee) have yet to recover from injury and will miss out, while Max Allegri has confirmed Douglas Costa (thigh) is not 100 per cent fit.

Ajax

As for the visitors, putting in another impressive showing in their 1-1 draw at the Johan Cruijff Arena last week, Ajax are arguably Europe’s surprise package this season. Still boosted by their historic 4-1 win away at defending champions Real Madrid last month, the mood in Amsterdam is the highest it has been in recent memory. Climbing back to the top of the Eredivisie and looking to end their remarkable five-year wait to reclaim the league title in Holland, boss Erik ten Hag has inspired quite the revolution in the former European heavyweights. Winning 10 of their last 12 appearances across all competitions and really starting to shine in the final third, one man to watch for Tuesday’s visitors will be the red-hot Dusan Tadic. Putting in a Man of the Match performance at the Bernabeu last month, the former Southampton playmaker bagged a brace in Ajax’s thumping 6-2 win against Excelsior on Saturday. Scoring 11 goals in his last 12 matches for club and country, the 30-year-old has been directly involved in 53% of Ajax’s 17 Champions League goals this season.

Team News

Perhaps pivotally for Ajax, Frenkie de Jong should be fit enough to feature on Tuesday night despite limping off on Saturday with a suspected hamstring problem.

The Barcelona-bound youngster has been named in Erik ten Hag’s 22-man squad for the trip to Italy.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Juventus are unbeaten in their past 10 meetings with Ajax, the joint longest run for one side against another in European matches (also Bayern Munich v Benfica).
  • After a run of seven defeats in eight games away against Italian opposition (D1), Ajax are unbeaten in their past four (W2 D2).
  • Juventus are looking to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in the past five seasons, also making the last four in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
  • Ajax are looking to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1996-97, while they could become the first Dutch side to do so since PSV in 2004-05.
  • The reverse match was only the third time Juventus have drawn the first leg of a Champions League knockout match away from home – they progressed against Rosenborg in the 1996-97 quarter-final, and were eliminated by Manchester United in the 1998-99 semi-final.

Conclusion

While we do expect Juventus to confirm their spot in the semi-final of this year’s Champions League, Ajax will prove to be an incredibly tough test. Led by Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic hat-trick against Atletico Madrid last month, we’re backing the Portuguese superstar to once again spearhead the Old Lady’s push in what could be an extremely close contest on Tuesday night.

Verdict: Juventus to qualify and Cristiano Ronaldo to score anytime

Best Odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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