Real Madrid Stunned by Ajax in Champions League Drama as Dutch Side Overturns the Odds
Soccer superpower Real Madrid went crashing out of the European Champions League on Tuesday night in one of the most shocking results in the history of the tournament.
The Spanish team was outthought, outplayed — and well beaten — by a brilliant young Ajax side. The 4-1 defeat at the Bernabeu Stadium — so often a fortress on these nights — was Real’s heaviest ever at home in the history of the competition.
So certain had Real been of progression, that team captain Sergio Ramos got himself deliberately booked at the end of the first leg, so he could serve his suspension and be fresh and card-less for the quarter final.
But there will be no quarter final for Madrid, the reigning champion, which has won the competition for the last three consecutive years.
Ramos could only watch from his VIP box as Los Blancos were torn apart by a team ranked 28th in UEFA’s rankings — although it’s fair to say the Dutch side’s stock has shot up a bit since last night.
Not only did Real have home advantage but it also led 2-1 from the first leg, the two away goals meaning Ajax would have to score twice or face elimination. But Ajax was two-up within 18 minutes and never took its foot off the gas.
Bettors could have backed Ajax at 7/1 before the match, which seemed a little miserly from the bookmakers, considering its seemingly mammoth task — but the bookies have been studying the form.
Real misses the brilliance and goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, who always shone on Champions League nights. And it misses former manager Zinedine Zidane, who departed last May. Since October, it has been operating under caretaker manager Santiago Solari and is badly in need of new direction and investment. The team has now suffered four consecutive home defeats — three in a week, and two at the hands of mortal enemies Barcelona.
‘End of an Era’
Spanish media described Tuesday’s result as the end of an era. El Mundo said the team had “drowned in its own blood.”
For Ajax — whose glory days were the late 1960s and 1970s during the golden era of Dutch soccer — a quarter final awaits. After dominating European soccer in the early 1970’s, Ajax won the Champions League again in 1994. But its star has faded since. This will be its first Champions League quarter-final since 2003.
Despite this performance, Ajax remains an underdog, at 25/1 to win the tournament, with Manchester City, just ahead of Barcelona as favorite, at 5/2 and 4/1, respectively.
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