Five things we learned from Ajax’s stunning win over Real Madrid



Ajax produced a five-star performance at the Santiago Bernabeu to sensationally overturn a first leg defect thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech, David Neres, Dusan Tadic and Lasse Schone in a 4-1 victory for the away side.

Real Madrids grip on the Champions League trophy is over after the club won a hat-trick of titles over the past three seasons.

Tadic was the shining light in a wonderful team performance from Ajax who progress to their first Champions League quarter-final since 2003.

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It was an incredible night of Champions League drama.

Here are five things we learned.

Real Madrid miss Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos has arguably been just as important as the imperious Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid’s success down the years. He’s scored in two Champions League finals and is a calming influence on Real’s back four.


They started the game very well, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric seeing a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges as Real took command of the ball. Los Blancos could have been ahead through Raphael Varane, but the world cup winner rattled the bar from point blank range.

Soon afterwards, Ajax sprung a counter-attack down their right-hand side where former-Southampton player Dusan Tadic isolated Nacho who came into the team in place of the suspended Ramos. Tadic skilfully found his way around Nacho to set up Hakim Ziyech who opened the scoring.

The game continued in the same vein after the goal, with Real having most of the ball. Ajax would soon catch them out again, though. David Neres doubled the visitors lead as Real’s defence looked at sixes and sevens, Ajax looked as though they were going to score with every attack.

Real sorely missed the commanding presence of Ramos in the quarter-final second leg against Juventus last season, and they struggled to cope without their captain defensively again. To add insult to injury for Real, Nacho was dismissed in stoppage time.

Frenkie de Jong is going to be a superstar

The Santiago Bernabeu can be a daunting stage for a young footballer. This certainly wasn’t the case for 21-year-old de Jong, the Dutch midfielder was virtuoso in the first half and equally as brilliant in the second.


He’s becoming a key figure in Ronald Koeman’s setup in the Dutch national team, and he’s been fantastic for Ajax this season which has earned him a transfer to Barcelona- where he will play his club football next season.

There seems little doubt that he will follow in the footsteps of Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff and go on to become a great player for Barcelona having moved from Ajax.

Playing alongside Schone and Donny van de Beeck in midfield, the Ajax contingent won their battle against Real trio Modric, Casemiro and Kroos in the first half.

De Jong produced a complete midfield performance. Calm in possession, good at breaking up the play, full of energy, an excellent passing range and enjoys playing at the Bernabeu- he’ll fit right in at Barcelona.

Dusan Tadic has took his game up a level

When Tadic played at Southampton, he certainly showed glimpses of quality whether it be from the wide areas or in the number ten position. At the Bernebeu, we seen Tadic in a new role- as a central striker.

The Serb was at the centre of everything for his side in an attacking sense in the first half, setting the tone, finding space and linking the play as Ajax raced into a two-goal lead inside 18 minutes with Tadic assisting both goals. He could have had a hat-trick of assists had but Neres chipped his effort wide of Thibaut Courtois’ goal.

He continued in the same vein in the second half, and on the hour mark he thumped Ajax into a three goal lead wrapping his left foot round the ball and curling it into the top corner.

In contrast to the flat-footed Karim Benzema spearheading Real’s attack, Tadic was full of tricks and movement and caused all sorts of problems for Varane and Nacho.

Tadic’s all round play as a centre-forward was fantastic, his role for Ajax is similar to the one Roberto Firmino plays for Liverpool.

Much like Mo Salah and Sadio Mane feed off Firmino’s unselfish play, Ziyech and Neres were benefitting from Tadic’s astute movement and tactical awareness in an impressive first half team performance from the visitors.


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