Real Madrid host Ajax in their attempt to win the fourth Champions League title in a row, as Los Blancos hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Amsterdam.
Real look to bounce back from the two home defeats in four days against their biggest rivals Barcelona. They are now 12 points behind the Catalans in La Liga and have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey, so it seems that the Champions League is the only competition they could win at the end of the season.
Ajax may have lost the first leg but were at times dominant against Los Blancos, and the Dutch side come to the Bernabeu to fight for their place in the quarter-finals until the last whistle.
Sergio Ramos will miss the game for the home side, as the Madrid captain serves his first of the two-match suspension for deliberately picking up a booking in the first leg earlier this month.
Necesitamos vuestro apoyo más que nunca. ¡Vamos!
We need your support more than ever!
⚪ Orgullo, corazón… noche @ChampionsLeague, noche @realmadrid / #ChampionsLeague night, #RealMadrid night
📍Plaza Sagrados Corazones
🙌🏻 #QuedadaRealMadrid pic.twitter.com/cUtR1x2Ho4
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) March 4, 2019
Gareth Bale, who started the Clasico on Saturday is expected to be benched again, with Lucas Vazquez getting his place in the starting eleven.
For Ajax, center-back Lisandro Magallan and midfielder Carel Eiting are likely to be missing as they were in the first leg.
What did the managers say
Santiago Solari admits that Madrid will miss Sergio Ramos in tonight’s game, but believes that his team has enough experience and quality to win the game without him.
“The team really want to win and I like this. We’re going out to win, as we always do. The team’s in good shape and they have a lot of experience and are relaxed about what people are saying.
“We’re working hard and of course we’re not happy when we lose, but we still want to do well in the Liga, and now we’ve got the Champions League.
“It’s a shame Sergio Ramos won’t be playing. He’s a leader, but we have enough players with experience and quality to replace him”
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) March 3, 2019
Erik ten Hag, the manager of Ajax, promised an attacking football from his team at the Bernabeu.
“They [Madrid] know that if they want to win a prize this season, the Champions League is the most realistic left. That will probably give them a special mentality on the pitch. But that does not matter to us. We are still active on three fronts.
“Our players are ambitious. We are going into the match to score goals. This Ajax side takes the initiative in every match. Ramos is definitely a loss, both on a tactical and a mental level. [His absence] certainly won’t make them stronger.”
- Every single one of teams to have won 2-1 away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout match have progressed to the next round.
- Ajax have scored as impressive 82 goals in 23 league matches this season, while they netted 12 times in their seven games in the Champions League.
- Real Madrid have won their last seven games in all competitions against Ajax.
- Ajax haven’t progressed through a Champions League knockout stage tie since 1997.
- Real Madrid have reached the Champions League semi-finals in each of the last eight campaigns, a record run in the history of the competition.