Preview: Ajax vs Real Madrid (Champions League, Day 2)

Through the respect inspired by Ajax you could determine the age of a fan of Real Madrid. While those over age 40 will adjust the tie to talk about tonight's opponent, those under 20 will show the same consideration that to Dinamo Zagreb and APOEL Nicosia. It is not uncommon. It is almost two decades that Ajax disappeared from the European elite (won the 1995 Champions League and lost the final the following year) and have already spent 40 years of his glorious continental stage (1971, 72 and 73). Since then, poverty in Europe and home comfort: Ajax successfully achieved the title of the Dutch league championship, the 31st.

Because Ajax is a permanent reconstruction team. Proof of this is that last summer fourteen players left the team (and three retired) and Ajax signed eight players. Fifteen of the players who make up the squad are 20 years old or less and only one exceeded thirty, the Danish Poulsen. After the last transfers, there are almost no players of the Dutch national team that got the second place in the last World Cup 2010. Ryan Babel (25) is the only player on the team who was in South Africa.

Surprisingly, an adversary apparently as tender as this Ajax resisted the fearsome attack by Dortmund until the 87th minute (1-0). But as they did, we must conclude that the team of Frank de Boer has more than just youth and inexperience. Indeed, the smaller of the De Boer twins (for minutes) debuted at Ajax when he was 18, a figure that shows the old custom of the team: throwing the boys without parachute when they come of age.

Mourinho spoke of that match in the Netherlands to argue that today will be more difficult than in the past two years. It does not seem complicated: four placid victories to Whites; (0-3, 3-0, 0-4 and 2-0). These four straight wins did forget the classic rivalry of the past, the Real Madrid defeats in 1973 and 1995, and the hard victory in 1963.

About the today's starting line-up, the Portuguese coach gave few clues (Mourinho called up the 24 players in the squad). Arbeloa will come back to the right-back, his public appearance confirms it, and Khedira is the doubt, due to physical problems. Although the coach said it is the most important match, with few days to the Classic against Barcelona, it seems logical that the German leaves his place to Essien.

Ahead would not be surprising to see Callejon, who last year scored two goals in the Amsterdam Arena. So Di Maria will rest because he finished exhausted against Deportivo and will be a basic player against Barcelona. Neither rule out the presence of Özil, you know, carrot and stick policy. Among the forwards, Benzema has advantage.

As you can imagine, the Ramos case occupied much of the press conference. Mourinho denied the problems halfheartedly and nobody thinks about Ramos out of the line-up. Another possibility would rekindle the fire dangerously.

It will be the fifth away match of the season for Real Madrid, which has lost three of them (Barcelona, Getafe and Sevilla). Today white team should not have many problems. But this is football and at Real Madrid lately is little talk of the sport.

Expected Starting Line-up
  • Ajax: Vermeer, Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Moisander, Blind, De Jong, Poulsen, Eriksen, Sana, Babel, Boerrigter
  • Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Essien, Alonso, Callejon, Özil, Ronaldo, Benzema.

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