Joey Didulica: Ajax will stay grounded despite Real Madrid upset

Former goalkeeper Joey Didulica is confident that Ajax’s youthful naivety won’t hinder their Champions League prospects after pulling off a sensational win over Real Madrid.

Despite falling to a 2-1 home first-leg defeat in their last-16 tie, Ajax made light work of 13-time champions Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday by thrashing them 4-1.

The victory enabled Erik ten Hag’s side to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League following a 5-3 aggregate victory over Real.

And Didulica, who formed part of the last Ajax team to reach the last eight in 2003, is confident that the Dutch giants will ensure their young stars remained composed.

While highly-rated, this young and inexperienced Ajax team only boast an average age of 24 years old.

“There’s a naivety to it all, which can help you,” Didulica told SportsMax.

“At the end of the day, it can work against you because you haven’t got that experience of knowing the situation, you haven’t been there before, but it can be a plus as well.

“You don’t know what you’re capable of yet and also the opposition doesn’t know what these young kids are capable of. There are definitely the pros but there are also the cons.

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“I know Ajax and I know the culture within the club there and I know the people around and the reason they’re doing so well is because of the people around at the club, which is not a club where these guys are the legends, these guys are the best ever. These guys are just one of 100.

“They won’t get ahead of themselves.”

The former Croatia international hopes Ajax will be able to take momentum from their victory over Real and go far into this season’s Champions League.

“I think if you want to win a Champions League, you need to really have a bit of luck, but you need a lot of quality for a long time,” he said.

“One-off games, certainly, that naivety, that young exuberance, the energy can take you one or two games, three or four, but long term, you’ll come to where you are.

“I hope they go a long way. I love Ajax, I love the feel of the club, I love what it stands for. I think a lot more clubs need to have that sort of philosophy.”

Ajax will find out who they will take on in the quarter-finals on March 15.

MADRID, SPAIN – MARCH 05: Ajax players celebrate victory after the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Ajax at Bernabeu on March 05, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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