AFC Ajax will be hoping for a case of third time lucky when Group D rivals Real Madrid CF come to the Amsterdam ArenA for an encounter between two clubs with 13 European Cups between them. In each of the last two seasons nine-time winners Madrid have beaten the Dutch title holders home and away in the group stage – with an aggregate score of 12-0 – to consign them to third place and an early exit.
• Madrid began the group stage in familiar fashion with a 3-2 home defeat of Manchester City FC, scoring twice in the last three minutes, while Ajax succumbed to an 87th-minute goal to go down 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund.
• Ajax's hopes of progress to the 2011/12 round of 16 were ended in a 3-0 home defeat by Madrid on 7 December, José Callejón (14, 90) and Gonzalo Higuaín (41) scoring. Frank de Boer's men had needed only a draw to advance but Madrid's victory and Lyon's 7-1 triumph at GNK Dinamo Zagreb dropped them down to third.
• The teams for that fixture were:
Ajax: Vermeer, Van der Wiel, Vertonghen, Blind, Anita, Eriksen, Enoh, Janssen (Klaassen 76), Sulejmani, Lodeiro (Bulykin 74), Ebecilio.
Madrid: Adán, Arbeloa (Mendes 67), Albiol, Varane, Coentrão, Granero (Alonso 59), Şahin, Kaká, Callejón, Higuaín, Benzema (Altıntop 54).
• Madrid had also won the matchday two meeting at the Bernabéu 3-0 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (25), Kaká (41), and Karim Benzema (49).
• Madrid also ended Ajax's hopes with a 4-0 victory in Amsterdam in 2010/11. Having already prevailed 2-0 in Spain thanks to Vurnon Anita's own goal and Higuaín, the Merengues triumphed again with Benzema (36), Álvaro Arbeloa (44), and Ronaldo (70, 81 penalty) scoring for a team who lost Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to late red cards.
• The lineups in Amsterdam on 23 November 2010 were:
Ajax: Stekelenburg, Van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita, Enoh, Sulejmani (Eriksen 88), El Hamdaoui (De Zeeuw 46), De Jong (Lindgren 76), Emanuelson, Suárez.
Madrid: Casillas, Ramos, L Diarra (Mateos 81), Marcelo, Alonso, Arbeloa, Albiol, León (Di María 65), Özil, Ronaldo, Benzema (Canales 82).
• Ajax had previously won five of the teams' six matches and drawn the other. In the 1972/73 semi-final they won 2-1 at home to Madrid then triumphed 1-0 in Spain, going on to win a third successive European Champion Clubs' Cup.
• Under José Mourinho, the Merengues have an away record of W7 D4 L1 in the UEFA Champions League. Madrid's record on Dutch soil is W4 D4 L4.
• Ajax's overall home record against Liga clubs is W8 D3 L4, including the 1995 UEFA Super Cup second-leg victory over Real Zaragoza, but they have won only one of their last seven games against Spanish visitors.
• During four years as an FC Barcelona player between 1999 and 2003 De Boer faced Madrid nine times in the Liga and UEFA Champions League, winning two, losing two and drawing five. Mourinho was assistant to Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal in 1999/2000. De Boer was part of the Ajax side that beat Madrid 1-0 in the group stage in September 1995, missing the 2-0 return victory in Spain through injury.
• Ryan Babel played alongside Alonso and Arbeloa at Liverpool FC between 2007 and 2009. He set up Liverpool's third goal in a 4-0 home victory over Madrid in the 2008/09 round of 16 second leg.
• Christian Poulsen was at Sevilla FC between 2006 and 2008, playing in two home league wins and two away defeats against Madrid.
• Christian Eriksen and Poulsen were in the Denmark team eliminated from UEFA EURO 2012 after a 2-1 defeat by Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil's Germany. Eriksen and Lasse Schøne, a late substitute, played in a 3-2 loss to Portugal, including Ronaldo, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão, in the same competition.
• Eriksen and Poulsen had traded wins with Madrid's Portuguese contingent in qualifying for Poland and Ukraine, Ronaldo scoring in both matches.
• Toby Alderweireld's Belgium lost 1-0 to Khedira and Özil's Germany in a home UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in September 2010.
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