Ajax v Real Madrid preview: all you need to know

Ajax look to refamiliarise themselves with the knockout stage, up against holders Real Madrid.

Real Madrid have made at least the semi-finals for eight seasons running
Real Madrid have made at least the semi-finals for eight seasons running ©Getty Images

Reporter's view (Derek Brookman, UEFA.com): Erik ten Hag's team are in something of a crisis. Since the winter break Ajax have won only once in four league games, a run which includes a 6-2 defeat at arch-rivals Feyenoord. The group stage matches brought out the best in this talented side, so maybe they can rise to the occasion again on Wednesday. If they don't, they could be in for a testing evening.

Possible line-ups

Brilliant Kaká strike for Real Madrid against Ajax in 2011
Brilliant Kaká strike for Real Madrid against Ajax in 2011

Ajax: Onana; Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; De Jong, Van de Beek, Schöne; Ziyech, Dolberg, Tadić
Out: Bandé (calf)
Doubtful: Tagliafico (knee), Magallán (leg)

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Reguilón; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Vinícius
Out: Isco (back), Llorente (adductor)
Doubtful: Vallejo (hamstring), Varane (flu)
Misses next game if booked: Ramos

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Key battle

De Jong v Casemiro: Barcelona-bound Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been grabbing the headlines recently, but how will he fare against a wily, experienced opponent like the Brazilian international? The Ajax No21 is often the metronome that makes his team tick, yet he is likely to find space an extremely limited commodity on Wednesday. His ability to escape the clutches of his Madrid counterpart and initiate attacks will be crucial to Ajax's chances of success.

Where to watch

Ajax: The story so far
Ajax: The story so far

Fans can find their local UEFA Champions League broadcast partner(s) here.

Form guide

Ajax
Latest: Heracles 1-0 Ajax (09/02)
Form: LWLWDWDWDW (all competitions, most recent first)

Real Madrid
Latest: Atlético 1-3 Real Madrid (09/02)
Form: WDWWWWWLWWL

Erik ten Hag, Ajax coach

It's up to us to pick ourselves up. We have to play our own game on Wednesday, because it does not matter who your opponents are – you saw how we did against Bayern Munich [1-1a, 3-3h in the group stage]. We have to focus on our football and enjoy it.

This opponent is a challenge. We're looking forward to it, we're confident we can take them on. We're physically fit and with the right team spirit we can go a long way. [Frenkie de Jong] is fit – he will be even more motivated as a future Barcelona player to play against Real Madrid.

Santiago Solari, Real Madrid coach

Real Madrid: The story so far
Real Madrid: The story so far

They're having a good season. They link up well and are very dynamic, with good players. You have to respect every opponent. I hope we produce a performance as serious as we did three days ago [Saturday's 3-1 win at Atlético]. We have great memories of this stadium, let's hope that continues tomorrow. We're approaching it with maximum respect.

[Ahead of his 600th Madrid appearance, Sergio Ramos] has a wonderful personality. He's really competitive and that's why he's played this many games. This historic Madrid side has the stamp of his character. Let's hope we can enjoy him for plenty more games.

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