Juventus – Ajax – BBC Sport

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Cristiano Ronaldo was eliminated on Saturday when young Juventus missed the chance to win the Serie A title

"Unstoppable" Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Juventus in the second round of the Champions League last Tuesday.

The Portuguese scored a 1-1 draw at Johan Cruyff Arena last week, but was one of several players to rest in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at SPAL.

"Cristiano has an exceptional quality," said Chef Massimiliano Allegri.

"At certain moments he becomes an unstoppable player and you can see it on his face."

Striker Mario Mandzukic will miss the game with a knee injury. Allegri says, "He's struggled to train 100%, and these games are better for players who are in their best shape because they have to give absolutely everything."

Ajax are worried about midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who injured his thigh in a 6-2 win over Excelsior on Saturday. Coach Erik Ten Hag said they were confident that he could play.

"Frenkie has to decide for himself if he's ready, and I'll decide if he'll play," Ten Hag said.

Ten Hag said he was optimistic that his team could cause another surprise after defeating Real Madrid, the European champions of the past three years, 4-1 in the Bernabeu on the final lap.

"I'm confident in what we play and train, we're stronger and show it from game to game," he said. "Juventus are the favorites, especially after the Amsterdam result.

"If we play well, we can overcome every limit."

Allegri has urged the Italian giants – one point away from winning the eighth consecutive Serie A title – to repeat their own exploits of the final round against Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo, the tournament's top scorer so far, scored a hat-trick when he lost to a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

"It's a one-time game and we have to play with the same attitude as against Atletico," said the Italian.

GAME FACTS

  • Juventus have been undefeated since their last 10 encounters with Ajax, the longest run of a team in European matches (including Bayern Munich versus Benfica).
  • After eight defeats in eight away games against the Italian opponent (D1) Ajax is unbeaten in the last four games (W2 D2).
  • Juventus want to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in the past five seasons. In 2014-15 and 2016/17 it was the last four.
  • Ajax want to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1996-97, while it could be the first Dutch team to do so since PSV 2004/05.
  • The reverse was just the third time that Juventus scored the first leg of a Champions League knockout in the distance – in the quarter-finals of 1996/97 they played against Rosenborg and were eliminated in the semifinals 1998-99 by Manchester United. Final.
  • Ajax have already been eliminated in two out of three games when they drew at home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout round tie, most recently in the last 16 of the last 16 against Inter Milan.
  • Juventus have lost two of their last five home matches in the Champions League (W3), as many as in their last 45 (W28 D15).
  • Ajax have won their last two Champions League away games, most recently between November 1995 and March 1997 (seven).
  • Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo has met with Ajax in his last five Champions League games, scoring eight goals. The Portuguese scored 51% of his total in the Round of 16 (64/125).
  • Dusan Tadic was directly involved in 53% of Ajax's 17 UEFA Champions League goals this season (six goals, three assists). The last player to score more for Ajax in a Champions League campaign than the Serb was Jari Litmanen (1995) (nine).

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