Ever before a ball was kicked in European competition this season, Juventus declared its intentions in the Champions League. It’s not a secret that Juventus wants to end the club’s lengthy European trophy drought, which is inching closer and closer to three decades long.
Now, of course, we hope facing Ajax isn’t the end game like it was in 1996.
But, we sure do hope that the end result is the same as it was in 1996.
After their thrilling comeback in the first round of the knockout stages last month, Juventus has made the trip to Amsterdam where they will face the young and hungry talents of Ajax in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals tonight. Juventus, which hasn’t seen much of Ajax in European competition since the 1996 final that saw them claim their last Champions League trophy, enter the game without captain Giorgio Chiellini and midfielder Emre Can, both surefire starters who are out due to injury.
And yet, Juventus head to the Netherlands with plenty of confidence, plenty of reason to like where they’re at. Probably a lot of that has to do with the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be making his first start for Juventus since his historic hat trick against Atlético Madrid on March 12. But Max Allegri, even though he has never faced Ajax as Juve manager, has a pretty good idea of what his team will be going up against:
“They are a very physical team, strong in the air and in the tackle, so that is where the game will be decided. We must have the humility and capability to defend well, because that is when Ajax become vulnerable.
“We prepared this game working on their strengths and weaknesses. If they are aggressive, we need to be aggressive too. We expect spaces to open up and it to be an open match, so we have to make the most of those situations.
“It’s essential that we run and run hard towards their goal, especially against this Ajax. They tend to have these bursts of great intensity and that is when they become very dangerous.”
(Source: Football Italia)
Running toward the Ajax goal is good!
Preventing Ajax from running toward the Juventus goal is also probably good, too.
Either way, Allegri expects goals — and probably more than one or two of them by the sound of it.
I guess that means we better buckle up. It’s the Champions League quarterfinals, after all.
When: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Where: Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in the Netherlands and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; 12 Noon Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Joao Cancelo, Rugani, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Mandzukic, Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Perin, De Sciglio, Spinazzola, Khedira, Dybala, Douglas Costa, Kean
Ajax starting XI (4-3-3): Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Van de Beek, De Jong, Schöne; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres
Ajax bench: Varela, Kristensen, Sinkgraven, Huntelaar, Magallan, Dolberg, Ekkelenkamp
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Galavision (United States); BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom); RAI Uno, Sky Calcio 2, Sky Sport Uno
Online/mobile: B/R Live, Univision Deportes En Vivo (United States); DAZN (Canada); BT Sport Live (United Kingdom); RAI Play, SKY Go Italia (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.