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Ajax v Real Madrid background

Ajax are in the last 16 for the first time since 2006 but must now improve on a miserable recent record against Real Madrid.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (left) takes on Daley Blind of Ajax in 2012/13
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (left) takes on Daley Blind of Ajax in 2012/13 ©AFP/Getty Images

Ajax must overcome the weight of recent history as they take on holders Real Madrid bidding to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 16 years.

• The Dutch club have reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2005/06 but have never won at this stage of the UEFA Champions League. Furthermore, Ajax have lost their last six games to Real Madrid, conceding 20 goals while scoring only two.

• In contrast, Real Madrid have continued their record of appearing in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 every year since its introduction in 2003/04 – and have not lost a tie at this juncture in nine years.

• Madrid have won the last three editions of the UEFA Champions League and have won their last nine two-legged knockout ties in the competition, since defeat by Juventus in the 2014/15 semi-finals.

Luka Modrić's 2018 highlights

Previous meetings
• The teams have met 12 times in UEFA competition – all in the European Cup – Real Madrid winning seven and Ajax four with only one draw, 1-1 in the first encounter in Amsterdam in the 1967/68 European Cup first round first leg. Madrid won the second leg 2-1 in Spain to progress.

• Ajax won the next four fixtures between the sides, in the semi-final of their victorious 1972/73 European Cup campaign (2-1 home, 1-0 away) and, as holders, in the 1995/96 UEFA Champions League group stage (1-0 home, 2-0 away), when they went on to reach another final. In the latter campaign, Marc Overmars – now Ajax's director of player affairs – scored the only goal in Amsterdam with Edwin van der Sar (now Ajax's general director) and Danny Blind, father of Daley, playing in both games.

• Madrid have dominated recent contests between the sides, beating Ajax home and away in the group stage in 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13. Their last trip to Amsterdam brought a 4-1 success in October 2012 – Madrid won by the same scoreline at the Santiago Bernabéu two months later – making it 11 goals in their last three visits to Ajax.

• Daley Blind played in both the sides' 2012/13 games, Lasse Schöne coming on as a first-half substitute in Madrid's 4-1 home win.

• Karim Benzema was on target in Madrid's win at Ajax in October 2012 having also found the net in a 4-0 success in Amsterdam in November 2010 and in Madrid's 3-0 home victory against Ajax the following September.

See who made the Team of the Year 2018

Form guide
• The 2005/06 tie against Internazionale is Ajax's sole previous UEFA Champions League round of 16 contest; the Dutch club drew 2-2 in the home first leg – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar opening the scoring – before a 1-0 defeat in Milan.

• Ajax's last UEFA Champions League quarter-final came in 2002/03, when they were beaten 3-2 at AC Milan having drawn the home first leg 0-0.

• The Dutch club are without a win in their last six UEFA Champions League knockout fixtures (D2 L4), since a 3-2 victory at Atlético Madrid in the 1996/97 quarter-final second leg that completed a 4-3 aggregate success.

• A 1-1 draw in the first leg of that Atlético tie means Ajax have not won any of their last five home UEFA Champions League knockout matches (D3 L2), most recently beating Borussia Dortmund 1-0 in the 1995/96 quarter-final second leg (3-0 aggregate).

• Ajax's last experience of Spanish opposition came in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage, when they drew 2-2 at Celta Vigo before a 3-2 home victory.

• The Amsterdammers have won only two of their last 14 games against Spanish opponents (D1 L11).

#UCL group stage skillzone

• Ajax's record in two-legged knockout ties against Spanish clubs is W7 L2, the most recent a 3-0 aggregate loss (0-1 home, 0-2 away) against Mallorca in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup third round.

• Ajax are unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19 – a run of 12 matches (W7 D5). They won their first five home games before a 3-3 draw against Bayern München on matchday six, finishing second behind the German club in Group E.

• Ajax are the sole side still involved who came through qualifying. The other 15 participants in the round of 16 all entered the competition at the group stage.

Real Madrid
• This is Real Madrid's 23rd UEFA Champions League campaign – and the 23rd in which they have reached the knockout phase.

• Madrid are holders and 13-time champions. Semi-finalists or better in each of the last eight seasons, this is their 49th European Cup campaign – more than any other side.

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

• Madrid are looking to reach the quarter-finals for the ninth successive year. Their round of 16 record is W9 L6; they lost at this stage for six years in a row between 2005 and 2010 but have won their last eight ties.

• In 2017/18, Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 at home and 2-1 away, Marcelo scoring in the first leg and Casemiro in the second.

• This is the Merengues' first knockout tie against Dutch opponents since a 2-0 aggregate win (1-0 away, 1-0 home) against Vitesse in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup third round. That made Madrid's record in two-legged contests with Eredivisie clubs W6 L3; their last aggregate defeat came on away goals against PSV Eindhoven in the 1987/88 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final (1-1 home, 0-0 away).

• Madrid have won on five of their last six visits to the Netherlands, the 1995 defeat at Ajax their sole loss in their last eight trips (W5 D2).

• This season, Madrid finished top of Group G with 12 points despite losing both games against bottom side CSKA Moskva – including a 3-0 reverse at the Bernabéu on matchday six that was the club's heaviest home European defeat.

• Madrid have still lost only six of their last 39 European matches, home and away, winning 26.

• Aside from the 1-0 loss at CSKA on matchday two, Madrid won 5-0 at Viktoria Plzeň and 2-0 at Roma in the group stage, and have won 13 of their last 21 European away matches, losing just four.

Best saves of the 2018/19 group stage

Links and trivia
• This is one of only two ties in the round of 16 not featuring a reigning domestic champion, the other being Tottenham-Dortmund.

• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar joined Madrid from Ajax in January 2009, scoring eight goals in 20 appearances before leaving six months later. The Dutch striker faced the Merengues four times with Schalke, scoring three goals including two at the Bernabéu in the German side's 4-3 victory in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League round of 16 – a tie his club lost 5-4 on aggregate.

• Nicolás Tagliafico spent 2012/13 on loan in Spain with second division side Real Murcia.

• André Onana came through the Barcelona academy but never made a first-team appearance before joining Ajax in 2015.

Latest news

UEFA Champions League squad changes
In: Lisandro Magallán, Lassina Traoré, Bruno Varela
Out: Dennis Johnsen, Azor Matusiwa, Luis Orejuela, Kaj Sierhuis, Maximilian Wöber

• Ajax made a slow start to 2019 in the Eredivisie, kicking off the year with a 4-4 draw at home to Heerenveen before a 6-2 loss at Feyenoord – their biggest league reverse since a 4-0 defeat by PSV Eindhoven on 22 September 2013.

• In those two matches, Ajax conceded ten goals – two more than in the 17 league games before that. It also marked only the second time in Eredivisie history – and the first since 1959 – that Ajax had shipped four goals in successive matches.

• Four days after drawing with Bayern on matchday six, Ajax beat De Graafschap 8-0 – their biggest victory since a 9-0 defeat of Sparta Rotterdam on 18 March 2001.

• On 24 January Ajax qualified for the Dutch Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 home win against Heerenveen. They will travel to Feyenoord in the last four on 27 February.

• Ajax were 6-0 winners against VVV-Venlo on 2 February – the fourth time they had scored six or more goals in a games this season.

• Ajax had scored in 23 successive matches, since a 3-0 defeat at PSV on 23 September, before losing 1-0 at Heracles on Saturday.

• Dušan Tadić, who scored the third goal against VVV, has 11 in his last 12 matches and six in seven in the Eredivisie.

• Summer signing Hassane Bandé has not played since suffering a calf injury in a friendly against Anderlecht in early July. Joël Veltman has not played since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on 19 April, although he was on the bench on Saturday.

Real Madrid
UEFA Champions League squad changes
In: Brahim Díaz, Diego Altube Suárez, Jaume Grau
Out: Kiko Casilla

• Thibaut Courtois made his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition on matchday six.

• Madrid's record in all competitions since the end of the group stage is W11 D2 L2. They were 3-1 victors away to local rivals Atlético on Saturday.

• The Merengues have lost only one of their last nine away games in all competitions (W6 D2), a 1-0 Copa del Rey defeat at Leganés on 16 January.

• Madrid drew 1-1 at Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on 6 February; the Bernabéu return is scheduled for 27 February.

• Gareth Bale came off the bench to score Madrid's final goal at the weekend, his 100th strike for the club.

• Sergio Ramos now has 11 goals in all competitions this season, his most successful ever, surpassing his 2016/17 total. He scored a penalty at Atlético on Saturday.

• Ramos has made 599 appearances for Madrid.

• Karim Benzema has scored six goals in his last six Madrid appearances.

• The club lifted their third consecutive FIFA Club World Cup in December, defeating Kashima Antlers 3-1 in the semi-final before beating Al Ain 4-1 in the final.

• Bale's hat-trick against Kashima Antlers means he is now the joint highest scorer in FIFA Club World Cup history with six goals.

• Marcos Llorente came off after 61 minutes against Barcelona on 6 February with an adductor muscle problem; Jesús Vallejo, who has a hamstring injury, has not played since matchday six.

• Bale was out between 3 and 27 January with a calf issue, marking his return against Espanyol with a goal as a substitute. Having not scored in the Liga between 1 September and 9 December, the Welshman now has three goals in his last five Liga appearances.

• Luka Modrić won the Ballon d'Or on 3 December, the first Croatian to collect the prize and the first winner other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi since 2007.

• Modric was voted UEFA Men's Player of the Year for 2017/18 on 30 August. The Croatian also collected the award for UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season, with club-mates Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos picking up the prizes for Goalkeeper and Defender respectively.

Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be introduced into the UEFA Champions League from this round. The VAR will be used in order to support the referee when making decisions concerning four match-changing situations:
1.    Goals
2.    Incidents in the penalty area
3.    Red cards
4.    Mistaken identity

The VAR will inform the referee when there is evidence of a clear and obvious mistake in one of these match-changing situations. The referee can then use the review area next to the pitch to take a final decision. The VAR is also able to take into account any infringement that could have taken place in the immediate build-up to the incident (the attacking phase of play).

Decisions like offside or whether a foul was committed inside or outside the penalty area will be recommended to the referee directly by the VAR and no on-field review necessarily takes place in such cases. The on-field review process will be communicated within the stadium using either the stadium screens or the public announcement system.

More information on the introduction of VAR, including videos and images can be found here.