Expert Soccer Picks: Ajax vs Real Madrid Champions Odds and Predictions
When Ajax and Real Madrid clash on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchups, it will be a meeting between two of the most storied European franchises in European history. Ajax and Real Madrid have combined for 17 European titles out of 63 editions of the Champions League/European Cup. Real Madrid is here by virtue of their first-place finish in Group G as they topped the group with 12 points (4W, 2L), while Ajax finished second on 12 points (W3, D3), just two points back of Bayern Munich.
For those of you who are newer to soccer, you'd probably be surprised to hear that Ajax has won 4 European titles in their rich history, including three consecutive titles from 1971-73. They added their fourth European success in 1995 and also have two runner-up medals to show for their efforts in 1969 and 1996.
As for Real Madrid, what can be said that hasn't already been said about the 13-time Champions League winner? Yes, we know they are without Cristiano Ronaldo for this edition of the tournament, but this is a team with pedigree and with world-class players at every position. It would not shock me to see them make it to the semi-finals, at the very least.
As it currently stands, Real Madrid is -450 favorites to advance to the quarter-finals. If you believe that Los Blancos have what it takes to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Champions League title, you can get a piece of them at +1200, which is sixth favorite behind the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool. If you love backing high-priced underdogs, Ajax is the team you want. They are +300 to qualify and +10000 to reach the summit of the European competition.
First Leg: Wednesday February 13 @ 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Tuesday March 5 @ 3:00 pm
It's going to be a long and often frustrating 180 minutes for the Dutch squad, but at the very least they can take solace in the fact that they are gracing the Round of 16 for the first time in more than 10 years. Ajax are not even the best team in the Eredivisie, and so they are simply out of their depth against the reigning European Title holders.
Ajax come into this game with just one win in their last three games but are currently unbeaten in Europe this season. If Ajax is serious about pulling off the major upset, they are going to have to rely on their goal scoring abilities as they have netted 72 goals in just 21 league matches this season - not to mention 11 times in six group stage matches.
From a lineup perspective, the goal supply comes via Dusan Tadic, who came to Ajax via Southampton. The Serbian national is responsible for 22 goals this season, and he will be at the heart of all Ajax attacks moving forward. Ziyach and David Neres will be in the starting 11 to provide support from the flanks, and the rest of the lineup will see first team regulars like Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong consume their spot in the lineup. Dailey Blind, a former Manchester United player, is also likely to feature in the starting XI for the first time in a handful of games. Injury wise, there are no major concerns for Ajax.
Probable Starting XI: Onana, Mazraoui, Blind, De Ligt, Tagliafico, Schone, De Jong, Van de Beek, Neres, Tadic, Ziyec
Real Madrid Storylines
What can be said about Real Madrid that hasn't already been said? After a slow start to the season and life without Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Blancos are unbeaten in seven games (W6, D1) and beyond that are unbeaten in 13 of their last 15 games. The offense is finally starting to score again having netted at least three goals in five of their last six games. It should come as no surprise to see Madrid as the heavy favorites in this tie as they simply have superior players in every position on the pitch.
In terms of injuries, only Marcos Llorente and Jesus Vallejo will be missing from the first leg of this fixture, which means that Real Madrid is at full squad, and that is bad news for Ajax. Karim Benzema will lead the line, while Ballon D'or winner Luka Modric will be pulling the strings in midfield.
Probable Starting XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Lucas, Benzema, Vinicius
Ajax vs Real Madrid Predictions
Depending on what side of the fence you are on about the true meaning of the word "value", you can take Real Madrid to advance and lay the -450. Realistically, this line should be higher, but that would be doing a disservice to the sportsbook, who would then have to offer a higher price on Ajax and leave themselves susceptible to paying out more than they would have liked. One way you can get around the -450 line is by just taking Madrid to win each game. They are currently -110 to win outright in the first leg. Whatever option you choose, Bovada has you covered.
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