Yes, the key word here is “shock”, rightfully so because despite the game being highly anticipated by millions of football fans all over the world, it is very clear that Juventus are favourites to secure victory in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie against a fearless Ajax team.
The first leg at the Cruyff arena lived up to standard as it was spiced with some scintillating footballing showcase although there weren’t many goals as Cristiano Ronaldo and David Neres were the only scorers from each side to make the game end 1-1. Now, both teams come head-to-head in Turin for the second leg and despite the fact that Juventus are favorites, it’s a dangerous fixture for them. Here we give you five reasons why we think Ajax can qualify for the semis.
1. AJAX FEARS NO TEAM
They showed this in their round of 16 victory against defending Champions Real Madrid. It does not matter who they come up against, big name or small, Ajax will stick to their attacking style of football seeking every means to hurt their opponent.
They are one of the few teams in Europe which acknowledge the fact that they are underdogs in a tie, but will stick to their style and not bend over for a bigger team to dominate them.
We see a lot of smaller teams trying to go defensive against a team they consider weaker, thereby sucking up pressure which will most likely end in conceding a goal.
For Ajax, it’s the opposite, they try to put pressure on their opponents and will always look to take the first blow. This means Juve will definitely find it more difficult to beat Ajax than Atletico Madrid, which is interesting.
2. JUVE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO COPE WITH AJAX STYLE
With all due respect, the Serie A is a walk in the park for Juventus, they’re used to dominating games, winning possession stats and creating more chances and its clear they always struggle when they are not totally the dominant side and this will be a problem for them against Ajax who follow the teachings of Cruyff to keep possession and this might mean the Dutch side creating more chances.
Of course a lot of things can subdue this but it’ll be interesting to see how the Italians will cope not having much of the ball.
3. NO CHIELLINI, POSSIBLY CAN
The fact that Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini will be missing the game through injury is a big boost for Ajax who will play the Italian giants without their joint most important player and defender. Chiellini is a leader in defence and is always fierce, without this, it’s very likely Barzagli will feature in his place. Barzagli is good but clearly isn’t as effective as Chiellini at the back and this might be a plus for Ajax.
Another notable possible absentee is Emre Can, the star is a very vital part of Juve’s midfield and his probable absence could mean the Turin side start Bentancur, a less productive midfielder. So that’s that…
4. FRENKIE DE JONG
Well, he was the best player in the first leg and was voted man of the match then nominated for Player of the week.
He is capable of bossing the best of midfields and did just that in the Cruyff Arena. His presence will be a nightmare for Juventus as he’s very good in keeping possession and resisting press, the main reason Barcelona signed him for next season.
The bad news is that Frenkie suffered a knock in Ajax last league game and was taken off, however, it was stated that it was for precaution despite the midfielder seen holding his hamstring whilst heading to the tunnel.
He’ll travel with the squad to Turin and will feature, if he is at his best, he adds to his team’s chances in winning the game no doubt.
“Frenkie is doing fine, he himself is feeling positive too. He wanted to get substituted because he felt something coming up, but he never felt pain. He will most likely play vs Juventus.” Ali Dursun, Frenkie’s agent said via de Telegraaf
5. AJAX DO NOT HAVE MUCH TO LOSE
Not many people expected Ajax to get this far in the Champions League, in fact, almost everyone wrote them off against Real Madrid, but they went on to produce the most mouth-watering display of the entire campaign to go through.
Ajax will take on Juve with all smiles and little pressure, they know they’ve exceeded the expectations of the fans and won’t play with fear unlike their hosts who know it’s a must win for them meaning they’ll play the game with more caution which can be dangerous.
Ajax will enjoy their football and the aim will be to give their fans a good time. They’ll play with their head, their mind but most importantly their hearts. It will be an interesting game of football.