Ajax v Real Madrid: business end of Champions League gets under way

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  • Champions League
  • Round of 16 (First-Leg)
  • 13/02/2019
Johan Cruyff Arena
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The Whites, who are riding a seven-game unbeaten run, are bidding to take the first step towards the quarter-finals (9pm CET).
The European Cup winners in each of the last three years tonight resume their Champions League campaign two months on from their last outing in the competition. After taking top spot in Group G, Real Madrid now face the first leg of their round-of-16 tie against Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena (9pm CET).

In their quest to defend their crown, the madridistas will be looking to get on top in the tie, before securing a quarter-final spot back at the Bernabéu on 5 March. In their bid to secure their passage, the Whites will be looking to extend their excellent run of performances and results. The team has now gone seven games unbeaten (W6 D2), with four of these matches coming on the road.

Squad list
"We approach the game with humility and the same spirit as in our most recent games", commented Santiago Solari in his pre-match press conference. The Real Madrid boss has named a 23-man squad for the encounter, with the injured LucaIsco and Marcos Llorente not part of the travelling party. Meanwhile, the Whites, who were last knocked out in the last 16 of the competition some nine years ago, have emerged victorious in each of the last six meetings with Ajax.

MADRID HAVE PREVAILED IN EACH OF THE CLUB'S LAST NINE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TIES. 

The madridistas face an Ajax side who are the only remaining team in the competition that contested the qualifying stage, in which they saw off Sturm Graz, Standard Liège and Dynamo Kiev. The Dutch side, who strengthened in the winter window with the signings of defender Lisandro Magallán and goalkeeper Bruno Varela, are yet to taste defeat in their 12 outings in this season's Champions League (W7, D5).

Unbeaten on home soil
Ajax have been in solid form this term at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Indeed, the hosts are unbeaten in their 18 competitive outings on home soil, with an outstanding record of 15 wins and three draws. Dusan Tadic, with 22 goals to his name, is the leading goalscorer for a side that has reached the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since the 2005/06 season. This match will feature another major novelty, with the video assistant referee system being introduced for the first time in the history of the European Cup from this round.