There was a time when Ajax winning in the Bernabeu wouldn’t have sent shockwaves through the footballing world like it has done after the Dutch giants ran amok in the Spanish capital. Outside of the Netherlands, it can be easy to forget that Ajax have won the ultimate prize in European football four times previously. Times have moved on and, in some ways, European football has sadly moved on without the once feared Ajax but, thankfully, and for the good of football, that looks to be changing.
It certainly didn’t look that way after Real Madrid beat Ajax 2-1 in the first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena. In fact, it looked the total opposite given how precious away goals are in this competition, even if the men in red and white looked dangerous during their first encounter.
In hindsight and after Ajax’s sensational win at the Bernabeu, one can see that Real Madrid were there for the taking. Coming into the second leg of their last 16 clash, Los Blancos had lost three out of the last four games they had played and looked unable to deal with teams that get the ball down and move it around at a quick tempo.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) March 5, 2019
It may come as a news flash but that is what Ajax have been doing for the entirety of their history as a club. Slick movement accompanied by dazzling skill on the ball would ultimately be the end of Real Madrid’s effort to win an unprecedented four Champions League titles in a row.
The main reason behind Real Madrid’s dominance in Europe is that they have been able to disconnect themselves from any domestic crisis that is ongoing at the same time. The Galacticos often look a different outfit altogether when they play in the Champions League and, should they have won this season’s event, it would have been their fifth in six seasons. When considering all of the above, Ajax’s win looks all the more remarkable and certainly brings about an end to the era of Real Madrid’s European dominance.
In many ways, the Champions League is famed for its upsets and you just have to think back to what happened at the Stadio Olimpico between Roma and Barcelona in the quarterfinals last year to be reminded that any deficit can be overcome.
Tottenham Hotspur would have been aware of that as they traveled to Dortmund with a three-goal lead in the other tie in the round of 16. Any punter scanning through the best football tips of the day before kickoff at the Westfalenstadion would have seen the pros at betconnect correctly tip Spurs to ease through in Dortmund, but once news of Ajax’s upset reached Germany, the BVB may have felt they could have done more to upset the apple cart.
Spurs and Ajax will now march on and, when a team reaches the last eight of the Champions League, all bets are then off.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) March 5, 2019
For Ajax, winning the Champions League would be a fairytale that most neutrals would be delighted to see happen. A few decades ago, describing Ajax’s potential winning of the Champions League as a fairytale would have been deemed preposterous by all and sundry but here the Dutch giants are, having just knocked out the most dominant team to ever play European football. Should Ajax continue to wind back the clock then there will be no stopping them on their quest to be crowned European champions on a warm night in late May at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.