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Football

Madrid renaissance faces Champions League test at Ajax

Santiago Solari is hoping to steer Real Madrid to a fourth consecutive Champions League title.
Santiago Solari is hoping to steer Real Madrid to a fourth consecutive Champions League title. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Four days after sweeping past city rivals Atletico 3-1 to go second in La Liga, Real Madrid continue the defence of their Champions League crown on Wednesday night in Amsterdam against a beguilingly inconsistent Ajax side.

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At the end of January, Feyenoord dented their title hopes with a 6-2 thrashing. A week later Ajax mashed up VW-Venlo 6-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena and then Erik ten Hag's men lost 1-0 away to Heracles.

Hardly the form to be welcoming a resurgent Madrid side who have won six of their last seven matches in all competitions.

"I feel Ajax might be more afraid than before," said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. "We are ready to fight for everything."

Madrid, under coach Santiago Solari, have climbed up the table and are six points behind pacesettes Barcelona in La Liga with 15 games remaining

They also have a slight advantage over the Catalans in the semi-final of their Copa del Rey tie, having drawn the first leg at the Camp Nou 1-1.

However, Ajax have been boosted by the return from injury of midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

The 21-year-old has recovered after he limped off with a thigh strain during the defeat at Heracles.

The Netherlands international will be keen to impress against Madrid after last month agreeing to a 75 million euro move to Barcelona in the summer.

"I can't deny that playing Madrid will motivate Frenkie more," ten Hag said on the eve of the clash.

"We are all extremely motivated. We are playing the winner of the last three Champions Leagues."

 

 

  

 

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