Juventus vs Ajax preview: Cristiano Ronaldo set to start second leg
Last Updated: 16/04/19 8:15pm
Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start for Juventus against Ajax in Turin for their Champions League quarter-final second leg.
For the 2-1 defeat at SPAL in Serie A on Saturday, Juventus had just two players in their starting line-up that began the 1-1 draw in Amsterdam and Ronaldo was not in the squad.
Ahead of Tuesday's game, Ajax had nine of their starting XI from the first leg in the 6-2 victory over Excelsior.
One of them, star midfielder Frenkie de Jong, limped off with a hamstring problem in the first half and is a doubt for the game in Turin.
Ronaldo was rested before Juve's second-leg last-16 tie and he subsequently scored a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid to overturn a first-leg deficit.
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is confident ahead of the tie. He said: "Juventus are the favourites, especially after the Amsterdam result. If we play well, we can overcome any limit.
"[Massimiliano] Allegri is very knowledgeable and has certainly thought of a different way to approach this game compared to last week. We need to improve our tactical plan.
"I'm confident because of the way we are playing and training. [Compared to the team that played in the 2017 UEFA Europa League final] We are stronger and we are showing it game by game."
Emre Can may return after missing the first leg through injury but Mario Mandzukic and Giorgio Chiellini were not named in the squad as they continue to get back to full fitness.
Douglas Costa missed the weekend clash with a hamstring problem but could return to be among the substitutes.
Along with De Jong, Ajax will be missing both Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting, who are out with long term problems.
How to follow game?
Sky Sports will be providing a live blog of the action from Turin - tune in from 6.45 on Tuesday
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Ajax in all competitions, the joint-longest such run for one side against another in European matches (also Bayern Munich vs Benfica).
- After a run of seven defeats in eight games away against Italian opposition (D1), Ajax are unbeaten in their last four such fixtures (W2 D2).
- Juventus are looking to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in the last five seasons, also making the last four in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
- Ajax are looking to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1996-97, while they could become the first Dutch side to do so since PSV in 2004-05.
- The reverse match was just the third time Juventus have drawn the first leg of a Champions League knockout match away from home - they progressed against Rosenborg in the 1996-97 quarter-final, and were eliminated by Man Utd in the 1998-99 semi-final.
- Ajax have been eliminated on two of the three previous occasions they've drawn the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie at home, most recently in the 2005-06 last 16 against Inter Milan.
- Juventus have lost two of their last five Champions League home games (W3), as many as they had in their previous 45 in Turin in the competition (W28 D15 L2).
- Ajax have won their last two Champions League away games, last winning more consecutively in the competition between November 1995 and March 1997 (7).
- Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in his last five Champions League games against Ajax, netting eight goals in total. The Portuguese has also scored 51% of his total goals in the competition in the knockout stages (64/125).
- Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in 53% of Ajax's 17 Champions League goals this season (6 goals, 3 assists). The last player to score more than the Serbian for Ajax in a single Champions League campaign was Jari Litmanen in 1995-96 (9).
I still think this is going to be tight. I thought Ajax should have won the first leg but Cristiano Ronaldo turned up yet again. Ajax will not be fazed by the trip to Juventus as they won at the Bernabeu, in emphatic style, against Real Madrid.
However, the know-how of Juventus alongside the firepower of Ronaldo will prove pivotal. Even if he is quiet for an hour he can pop a couple in, so I think Juventus will advance.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)