UEFA Champions League Betting Preview: Ajax vs Juventus – Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Matchup at a Glance
When: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at 03:00 PM
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Odds: Juventus -149, Draw +275, Ajax +400 @ Intertops
Juventus will take on Ajax on Tuesday, 16 April 2019, for a UEFA Champions League quarter-final showdown with the clash finely poised after a 1-1 draw at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam last week.
Both European soccer giants are already sharing a common history and their latest meeting in this season's quarter-finals could be either another Italian triumph or a sweet Dutch revenge.
The Bianconeri did much to ensure their eighth successive Scudetto as Juventus established a domestic hegemony after the famous Calciopoli scandal, which resulted to a brand new era for the Turin outfit.
However, they still dream to win the Champions League trophy for the first time since 1996, when they beat exactly Ajax in the final, and with a proven champion like Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, Massimiliano Allegri has no excuse but to deliver.
Ajax, on the other hand, mostly relies on homegrown talents, which has been their philosophy for decades. The new generation of the Amsterdammers have already taken one big scalp – of the reigning champions Real Madrid in the round of 16 – and the legendary Dutch club hopes to upset another major favorite.
Those players definitely prove their worth under the leadership of Erik ten Hag and a few of them have already been linked or even signed up their contracts (like Frenkie de Jong) with major European clubs such as Barcelona. Nevertheless, they are absolutely devoted to the Ajax cause and the Godenzonen can claim a treble this season.
Head-to-Head Stats (H2H)
Cristiano Ronaldo's header made it eight goals in six matches against Ajax to put the Italians in front in the 45th minute at the Johan Cruijff ArenA last Wednesday (10 April), but a spectacular David Neres strike 11 seconds into the second half ensured the teams would head to Turin all square.
Ajax were victorious in only two of their 13 European encounters against The Old Lady, but none since the 2-1 win in November 1974, when both teams met in the 1974-75 UEFA Cup third round.
Furthermore, the Bianconeri are unbeaten in their last ten games against the Dutchmen, winning five of the last seven.
These two glorious teams have met in two European Cup/Champions League finals. First, Ajax, captained by legendary Johan Cruyff, beat Juventus 1-0 in Belgrade in 1973 thanks to an early goal by winger Johnny Rep, but The Old Lady turned the tables in Rome 23 years later. Fabrizio Ravanelli gave Marcello Lippi's Juventus an early lead but Jari Litmanen equalized before the break for Ajax, who were bidding to become the first team to retain the UEFA Champions League having beaten another Serie A side – AC Milan – in the 1995 final. Instead, the Italians won the trophy for the second time in their history after a dramatic (4-2) penalty shoot-out.
The Bianconeri have won all four of the teams' two-legged ties, most recently winning 2-1 away thanks to a brace by Amauri in the first leg of 2009-10 UEFA Europa League round of 32, and progressing after a goalless draw at Stadio Olimpico di Torino.
Juventus are unbeaten in their five games against Ajax in Turin, winning three, though they have scored just once in the last two, keeping clean sheets in both. Their overall record in two-legged ties against Dutch clubs is 4-1.
Ajax are unbeaten in their last four visits to Serie A clubs, winning two (1-0 at Fiorentina in 2009 as well as 2-0 at AC Milan in 2010) and keeping clean sheets in all of them. However, their record in two-legged ties remains negative (5-7), losing three of the last four.
Juventus – Team News
Massimiliano Allegri's men suffered a second Serie A defeat of the season – both over the last month – at the weekend, losing 2-1 at SPAL on Saturday, having a game from which they had only needed a point to claim a record eighth successive Scudetto.
However, Allegri used the opportunity to field some backup players and youngsters, including the likes of Paolo Gozzi and Grigoris Kastanos who made their debuts.
With 84 points and six games to play, Juve are on track to reproduce their own Serie A record (102 points in the 2013-14 campaign), but the Bianconeri are surely more concerned about the Champions League title. They can focus entirely on their European quest as Juve was surprisingly eliminated from Atalanta in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
While Douglas Costa picked up a calf injury and is not expected to be available for the decisive second leg against Ajax, Daniele Rugani is expected to be fit but more importantly, there are encouraging signs over the fitness of captain Giorgio Chiellini and midfielder Emre Can, who have both missed the first leg in Amsterdam.
Blaise Matuidi also suffered a calf muscle injury and the World Champion missed the weekend's Serie A round, but he should return to the group here. If the Frenchman is not fit to start, Allegri can choice either Sami Khedira or Paulo Dybala in midfield.
Meanwhile, veteran Andrea Barzagli has confirmed he will retire at the end of the ongoing campaign after eight successful years with the Bianconeri. The 38-year-old center-back played a key role in Juve’s recent success, forming the core of the fabled ‘BBC’ (Barzagli-Bonucci-Chellini) defensive trio, but was expected to call time on his career after one final contract extension with the Bianconeri.
Second-choice goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who featured against SPAL, suffered a right shoulder injury in training and will most likely miss the match against Ajax, but Wojciech Szczesny should start here anyway.
Juan Cuadrado was removed from Juve's Champions League squad list after undergoing surgery on his left knee in December.
Moise Kean, who scored in Juve's last four Serie A matches, has eight goals in his last nine games for club and country. The Italian teenager with Ivorian roots seems to be one of the most promising talents in European soccer right now and provides an extra option to Allegri's game plan.
Latest news (Update – 15 April): In addition to the already injured goalkeeper Mattia Perin and defender Martín Caceres, captain Giorgio Chiellini and experienced Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic have both been left out of the squad. This means that either Paulo Dybala or Moise Kean could start up front alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and probably Federico Bernardeschi.
Meanwhile, Daniele Rugani, Emre Can, Blaise Matuidi and Douglas Costa are all in Juve's group for Ajax.
Ajax Amsterdam – Team News
Ajax are busy on three different fronts but they're absolutely enjoying it and their confidence will be sky high. Since dethroning Real Madrid thanks to a remarkable 4-1 win at Santiago Bernabeu, Erik ten Hag's men have also leapfrogged rivals PSV Eindhoven at the top of the Eredivisie and they're also waiting the 2019 Dutch Cup Final on 5 May – where they'll face Willem II.
Inspired by another spectacular result over the weekend, thrashing Excelsior 6-2 at home with veteran Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring a hat-trick, Erik ten Hag, unfortunately, has his own selection concerns. The Ajax Amsterdam boss hopes that key midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who will travel with the squad, will recover in time to play from the outset. He picked up an injury and was subbed off after only 28 minutes on Saturday and another youngster, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, could replace him if he is not ready to start.
Lasse Schone was rested against Excelsior but the experienced Danish midfielder will surely start in Turin.
Moroccan right-back Noussair Mazraoui, who missed the first leg through suspension, will return to the squad as well, but Erik ten Hag's issues are related with the left-back this time. Nicolas Tagliafico will miss the game due to suspension and ten Hag has two options here – he can either play Daley Sinkgraven at left-back or he can move Daley Blind out to Tagliafico's zone, while Joel Veltman (who replaced Mazraoui in the first match) can start alongside captain Matthijs de Ligt at center-back.
Dusan Tadic, who netted a brace on Saturday, has 15 goals in his last 16 Eredivisie appearances and 19 in his last 23 across all competitions.
Possible Starting Lineups of Juventus and Ajax
Juventus FC: Wojciech Szczesny – Alex Sandro, Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci, Joao Cancelo – Blaise Matuidi, Rodrigo Bentancur, Miralem Pjanic – Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo, Federico Bernardeschi. (4-3-3)
AFC Ajax: Andre Onana – Noussair Mazraoui, Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt, Daley Blind – Lasse Schone, Frenkie de Jong – Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek, David Neres – Dusan Tadic. (4-2-3-1)
Ajax have lost only one of their 15 European games throughout the campaign (8 wins, 6 draws) – the controversial first-leg defeat against Real Madrid. They've won 4-1 in the second leg but they also have some other impressive results over the course of their Champions League run – two draws against Bayern Munich (3-3 at home and 1-1 away), as well as victories over Benfica and AEK Athens in the group stage.
The Amsterdammers have won five of their last six away games in all competitions, losing the other – 1-0 at AZ Alkmaar one month ago. They scored 21 goals in that sequence, conceding six.
Juventus are favorites to win the game and to qualify for the semi-finals. They were also among our preseason bets to win the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League and with a predator like Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, The Old Lady looks dangerous enough.
However, the lack of proper competition in the Serie A affects their overall quality and this could have been seen in some of their previous Champions League commitments – Juve lost to Manchester United (2-1 at home) and Young Boys (2-1 away) in the group stage, as well as 2-0 to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 first leg.
We believe that Ajax shouldn't be underestimated and both teams are capable of scoring as happened in the first leg. Especially if Chiellini fails to recover in time and Juve’s defensive line remains without its best and lion-hearted warrior.