Uefa Champions League 2018-19 | Round of 16, first leg
Venue: Johan Cruyff ArenA, Amsterdam
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Kick-off: 8pm GMT
Real Madrid are seeking a fourth straight Champions League triumph as they kick off their knockout stage defence against Ajax in Amsterdam tonight.
Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo led Real to three straight European Cups from 2016 to 2018, but both Bernabeu legends departed the club last summer before Los Blancos endured a terrible start to the campaign.
Santiago Solari has arrested Real’s slide with some positive results, and a relative lack of pressure and expectation this term could end up working in Real’s favour – but first, they must see off an Ajax side who have scored 72 goals in 20 Eredivisie games, and pushed Bayern Munich all the way in Group E
Ajax vs Real Madrid team news and predicted line-ups Ajax are sweating over the fitness of Frenkie de Jong, who is set to join Barcelona in the summer. The youngster has been carrying a knock but both coach and player are hopeful he will play. Ajax XI: Onana; Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; De Jong, Van de Beek, Schone; Ziyech, Dolberg, Tadic
For Real Madrid, Isco and Marcos Alonso are out while Jesus Vallejo is a doubt. Sergio Ramos is one booking away from missing the second leg. Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Reguilón; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Vinicius
Expect plenty of goals in Amsterdam. Ajax have scored 15 times in their last four games, but also conceded 11 in the process. Real will certainly feel they can get at least one or two away goals to turn the tie in their favour, but head into this fixture after draining matches against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Dutch giants Ajax know the Champions League holders are not the force they once were, while Real will also face the prospect of their first knockout tie without Zidane and Ronaldo’s star quality, so the visitors have a mental test to overcome.
The sides have met 12 times in European competition beforehand, with Real winning seven games, Ajax four, and just the one draw. The last time the two sides met was in the 2012-13 Champions League group stages, with Real winning both games 4-1.