What: UEFA Champions League – Group D
Who: Ajax vs Real Madrid
When: Wednesday 3rd October, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Holland

Battling History

Another season, another clash between Ajax and Real Madrid. The meeting between the two giants has become a regular fixture in European football in recent times, and when they meet, goals have almost been easy to come by. Given how things have been going for Real Madrid, a win for Ajax would increase their chances of surviving this edition’s “group of death”.

Last season’s Eredivisie winners, Ajax have failed to top the league so far, managing 15 points after four wins and three draws, while their Champions League campaign got off on a sour note after losing 1-0 to Borussia Dortmund in Germany. However, new club captain Siem de Jong feels like his team are long overdue a victory against Real Madrid.

“We’ve played against Real Madrid in the last two seasons and haven’t beaten them once. So it would be nice to play against someone like Xabi Alonso, and to go on and win that game.”

Real Madrid have been prone to mistakes, being on the receiving end of an opening goal despite controlling games such as against Manchester City and Deportivo La Coruna. Should Ajax manage that, then they could make it a difficult evening for the Spanish giants.

Ready for Barcelona

Real Madrid are preparing for one of their busiest weeks so far of the 2012/13 competitive schedule. While they have an all-important game against Ajax, Jose Mourinho and the rest of his team know well that a potentially decisive meeting with Barcelona takes place in the league next Sunday.

Los Merengues’ smashing 5-1 win over Deportivo at the weekend elevated the champions to sixth place in the Liga table, but they remain however eight points off Barcelona’s pace. Yet, thinking about catching up with the league leaders is premature at the moment, as Pepe declared after the win over Deportivo.

“Now we have a Champions League match, we have to concentrate on that and then we will think about Barcelona. Our group is very difficult, but we have a lot of quality and we will play our game and try to win”, said the stopper.

With no injuries or suspensions, Mourinho will fancy his chances of making it six points out of six so far in the Champions League. His players have started to show their stripes after an initial slump and will want to be ready for the Clasico this weekend.

Recent form

ADO Den Haag 1-1 Ajax (23/09; Eredivisie)
Utrecht 0-3 Ajax (26/09; Dutch Cup)
Ajax 1-0 Twente (29/09; Eredivisie)

Real Madrid:
Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City (18/09; Champions League)
Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid (24/09; La Liga)
Real Madrid 5-1 Deportivo La Coruna (30/09; La Liga)

Key absences

Ajax: Kolbeinn Sigthorsson

Real Madrid: None

Players to watch

Ajax – Ryan Babel: The former Liverpool man is back at his old club after leaving Hoffenheim in the summer. Incredibly fast – he was once compared to Thierry Henry – Babel will want to remind the world of his abilities, starting with a good showing against Real Madrid.

Real Madrid – Luka Modric: The Croatian has so far excelled with Los Blancos, as the attacking midfielder behind the striker or as a deep-lying playmaker, as he was deployed against Deportivo. Modric will hope to lay down a marker as he prepares for his maiden league Clasico.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid appear to have kicked into full mode after their initial problems. Even at the Amsterdam ArenA, they should get the win against Ajax, who are not on the same level as the nine-time Champions League winners. Ajax 1-3 Real Madrid.

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