Champions League: Ajax vs. Juventus team news, starting XIs, predictions, odds, TV
Ronaldo returns for Juve and is expected to start at the Johan Cruyff Arena
Ajax vs. Juventus
- What: Uefa Champions League quarter-final first leg
- When: Wednesday 10 April
- Where: Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam
- Kick-off: 8pm (UK time)
- TV channel and live stream: BT Sport 3 and sport.bt.com
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the Juventus squad and is expected to make his return from injury in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax in Amsterdam.
The star striker, the Champions League all-time record goal-scorer, injured his thigh playing for Portugal during the international break but is passed fit to play on Wednesday night.
In the round of 16 both Ajax and Juventus completed memorable comebacks to beat the Madrid clubs. After losing 2-1 at home to Real Madrid Ajax travelled to the Bernabeu and won 4-1 on the night, 5-3 on aggregate.
Juve lost 2-0 in their last-16 first-leg tie against Atletico but Ronaldo starred with a second-leg hat-trick as the Italians won 3-0 in Turin, 3-2 on aggregate.
Ronaldo has not played for Juve since his stunning performance against Atletico, but head coach Massimiliano Allegri said the 34-year-old will start at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. Quoted by the BBC, Allegri said: “Cristiano has trained with the team and is available.”
Defender Daniele Rugani added: “Cristiano looks the same as ever. He’s in good shape, a very important player for us, as everyone knows, and we are happy he’ll be with us.”
De Ligt vs. Ronaldo
Uefa.com reporter Derek Brookman says that Ajax star defender Matthijs de Ligt, 19, will not feel daunted taking on five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo.
Brookman writes: “Youth versus experience as Ronaldo, 34, comes up against a man 15 years his junior. De Ligt, though, started early and shouldn’t be daunted: the Dutch youngster has done it before.
“Just over 12 months ago, in only his fifth international outing, he helped keep Ronaldo at bay in a 3-0 friendly win for the Netherlands against Portugal. Of course, Atlético’s vaunted back line had previous too, but they were powerless in the last 16.”
What the coaches say
Erick ten Hag, Ajax: “We must play against Juventus with our style. The most important thing is the result. We are only thinking about the match against the Bianconeri. Juventus is an experienced team and can put different strategies into play. It will be another big obstacle to overcome after Bayern and Real: we will play as usual and we will have to be good at reading the game.”
Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus: “Ajax are a strong team. They eliminated Real Madrid and played on a par against Bayern. As always a match like Ajax-Juve is an important game. It will be an open match and we will have to be very focused. Ajax play in a different way to Atletico Madrid. They are a very aggressive team and it's going to be a physical match, we need to score an away goal. We have prepared for Ajax-Juve by focusing on our opponent's strengths. We will have to go for their goal a lot.”
TV and live stream details
The match at the Johan Cruyff Arena will be live on BT Sport 3. The broadcaster will also have a live stream for sport.bt.com subscribers.
When is the second leg?
The return fixture will be played at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on Tuesday 16 April (8pm, live on BT Sport).
Team news and possible starting XIs
Ajax injury news
Uefa.com reports that the Dutch club will be without Moroccan right-back Noussair Mazraoui, who is suspended for the first leg. The Daily Express says his spot could be filled by Joel Veltman or Rasmus Nissen Kristensen.
Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting are long-term absentees and won’t be involved in the Ajax squad, says the London Evening Standard.
Frenkie de Jong, who win join Barcelona this summer, will start in midfield while forward Dusan Tadic will hope to add to his 30 goals scored this season.
Juventus injury news
While the Italian champions welcome back Ronaldo they have been dealt a double injury blow. The BBC reports that defender Giorgio Chiellini misses out with a calf strain and midfielder Emre Can has an ankle issue.
Martín Cáceres is injured and Goal.com says Juan Cuadrado and Andrea Brazagli also remain sidelined.
Possible starting XIs
How the teams could line up in Amsterdam, according to Uefa.com.
- Ajax possible starting XI: Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Van de Beek, Schöne, De Jong; Ziyech, Tadić, Neres
- Juventus possible starting XI: Szczęsny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Betancur, Pjanić, Matuidi; Bernardeschi; Mandžukić, Ronaldo
Predictions: who will win the first leg?
Michael Owen, former England striker, Metro: “Juventus have reached the quarter-finals for the third successive season, but I feel it will be honours even at the Johann Cruyff Arena. Ajax knocked out holders Real Madrid in the last round but did lose the home leg before famously overturning the deficit in the Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored seven Champions League goals against Ajax and I feel Juve will score in Amsterdam in what promises to be a hugely entertaining tie. Score prediction: Ajax 1 Juventus 1.”
Charlie Nicolas, Sky Sports: “I am not sure whether Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit, he was rested at the weekend. If he does not start, it is a big opportunity for Ajax. Juventus are robust and like a physical contest whereas Ajax are creative and energetic. Dusan Tadic is the more experienced player in this team and he has been performing great. Both teams will score and I think Ajax will edge it. Score prediction: Ajax 2 Juventus 1.”
Joe Krishnan, London Evening Standard: “If an under-performing Real Madrid side can come to the Johan Cruyff Arena and pick up a win, a much more capable Juventus side should have no trouble in doing so. Ajax are unlikely to roll over, given how they performed against Bayern Munich in the group stage, and have scored over 100 goals in all competitions this season. But expect Ronaldo and Co to be too strong for Erik ten Hag’s men. Score prediction: Ajax 1 Juventus 2.”
Daniel Lewis, Sports Mole: “Ajax were brilliant across the two legs against Real Madrid and they have been in fine form domestically, too. Juventus managed to recover against Atletico in the last round and, boosted by the possible return of Ronaldo, they should have too much for their opponents in this first leg. Score prediction: Ajax 1 Juventus 2.”
Ajax vs. Juventus betting odds
Prices according to Oddschecker, as of 10 April.
- Ajax to win: 12/5
- Juventus to win: 11/8
- Draw: 5/2
- Ajax: 10/3
- Juventus: 2/7
To win the Champions League
- Ajax: 40/1
- Juventus: 7/2
Champions League results and fixtures
Quarter-final first-leg results: Tuesday 9 April
- Liverpool 2 FC Porto 0
- Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 0
First-leg fixtures: Wednesday 10 April
- Ajax vs. Juventus (8pm, live on BT Sport 3)
- Manchester United vs. Barcelona (8pm, live on BT Sport 2)
Quarter-final second-leg fixtures
- 16 April: Juventus vs. Ajax
- 16 April: Barcelona vs. Manchester United
- 17 April: Porto vs. Liverpool (0-2 on aggregate)
- 17 April: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (0-1 on aggregate)