Madrid began their recent winning stretch with a 3-2 edging of Manchester City in their first Champions League contest of the season. That was followed by a pair of La Liga victories by a combined score of 7-1 over Spanish opponents Rayo Vallecano and Deportivo La Coruña, in that order.
The three-match winning streak has seen five goals from Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ajax, meanwhile, have picked up two straight wins of their own. Shutout victories over FC Utrecht and Twente Enschede have demonstrated the Dutch squad’s stellar defense. Ajax did, however, drop its first and only Champions League match of the season to the German squad Borussia Dortmund by a margin of 1-0.
As Real Madrid aims to keep their momentum going, Ajax will look to halt the visitors and defend their home turf.
Where: Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: Wednesday, October 3, 2:45 p.m. EST
Recent history between Madrid and opponent Ajax is quite telling: Over the last two years the clubs have met four times, and Madrid has been victorious on every occasion.
In fact, the scoring in those four meetings is even more persuasive: Madrid holds the advantage by a count of 12-0.
There is little to suggest that the Spanish powerhouse is susceptible to a change in that trend. Ronaldo’s hat trick in Madrid’s most recent victory and his game-winner in injury time against Manchester City have dominated the headlines, but Coach Jose Mourinho’s squad holds other capable scorers.
Keep an eye on recent standouts such as midfielder Ángel Di María, who also found the net in Madrid’s latest match and has managed ten shots on net in La Liga action thus far.
Those in charge of defending Madrid’s goal are nothing to ignore either, as is evidenced by the fact that the team has allowed two goals or more just three times all season in any league.
Madrid’s defense is given character by the aggressive play of Pepe, and at 31 years of age, keeper Iker Casillas became the youngest player in La Liga history to reach 300 career victories. Finding the net at all could be a challenge for Ajax come Wednesday.
Coach Frank de Boer’s team has been solid against its Dutch Eredivisie competition so far this season, playing to four victories and three draws.
Defense is a clear strength, as keeper Kenneth Vermeer and his companions have already held opponents scoreless on four occasions.
Ajax nearly managed to do the same against Borussia Dortmund in their first Champions League match. They maintained a scoreless tie until the 87th minute, despite facing 23 shots to just nine of their own.
They will need to put forth an equally inspired defensive effort on Wednesday if they hope to remain competitive with Real Madrid.
Offensively, midfielder Tobias Sana is tied for the team lead with three goals in Eredivisie action. He got the scoring started in the most recent Ajax victory, and marked a pair in the team’s second game of the season. Watch for him to act as one of the Dutch squad’s best chances to correct the scoring disability it has suffered against Real Madrid in recent years.
History has a tendency to repeat itself, and it will on Wednesday, as Real Madrid continues their dominance of the Dutch opponents. Ajax will find minor solace in breaking their scoring drought against the Spanish giant, but will be outdone by Ronaldo and Madrid’s attack.
Real Madrid 3, Ajax 1
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