Dutch giants Ajax welcome Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in what will be a replay of the famous 1996 final. Fireworks are expected in this clash of two European titans. Here are the Three Keys to this clash. You can bet on the Champions League here.
Ajax attack v Juventus defence
Ajax have the best attack in the Champions League this season with 29 goals scored in 19 matches including qualifiers. The Dutch giants, led by their attacking trident of Dusan Tadic, David Neres and Hakim Ziyech, have made the hosts a daunting opponent for any team, demonstrated by the way they tore Real Madrid apart in the previous round. Ajax have scored an astonishing 100 goals in the Eredivisie already and will most definitely take the game to a more pragmatic Bianconeri.
This time around, they will be facing an organised, disciplined and experienced Juventus defence which has conceded only six goals and kept five clean sheets in eight matches in the Champions League. The visitors will attempt to stifle the red-hot Ajax attack which can run riot on their day.
Youth v Experience
The Ajax team has an average age of 24 years, meaning most of their players are inexperienced at this level. The young players have the likes of Tadic, Daley Blind and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who are a bit older, to look up to. They are the experienced members of the squad who are battle-hardened and will be required to lead the team in high-pressure situations.
The Italian giants’ squad, on the other hand, has an average age of 28, which is much more experienced than their hosts. Centre backs Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli played a part in the 2015 and 2017 Champions League final. Their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is 34. So who will prevail tonight: the fledgling youth of Ajax or the collective experience of Juventus?
Tadic/Ziyech v Ronaldo
Serbian forward Tadic and Moroccan winger Ziyech have produced stellar performances throughout the season for Ajax, catapulting them to the top of the Eredivisie and the Champions League quarterfinals. If Ajax are to have any chance of progressing to the next round, these two hold the key as they did when they hammered Real Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabéu in the knockout round.
Ronaldo, Champions League all-time top scorer, turned the heat up in the second leg of the Round of 16 with a stunning hat-trick against Atletico Madrid. Matthijs de Ligt and the other members of his defensive quartet will have a job on their hands to stop the lethal Portuguese forward.