Ajax-Juventus fixtures have always been 1 that captivate the footballing world, the rivalry between these 2 is dated back as far as the 1970s, it could be recalled that Ajax defeated Juventus 1-0 to lift the 1972-73 UEFA Champions League Final.
However, the tie that really caught the eyes was the 1995-96 UCL Final between a Louis Van Gaal tutored Ajax and Marcello Lippi led Juventus. Ajax’s group of young lads such as Patrick Kluivert, Nwankwo Kanu, De Boer brothers, Edwin Van Der Sar and many more were hoping to defend the title they won in the previous season by beating another Italia club, AC Milan 1 nil in the final, but were undone by their poor penalty kicks, losing 2-4 from the kicks, having drawn 1 all during regulation time.
The 2 teams then met again the next season, though in the semis, this time Juve ran riot over Ajax with a 6-2 aggregate win. The 2 teams had gone on to meet twice in the competition in 2004-05 when Juve got away with a 2-0 aggregate win in a group C 2-leg fixtures.
A lot has been said about manager Erik Ten Hag’s young side, most sports pundits have likened his team to that of Van Gaal sets of 1995, young and energetic. They have not lost away in this season competition, drawing 2 and winning 2 including the surprise win at the Bernabeu. Major boost for Juve as their prolific talisman, Christian Ronaldo passed fit for the game in Ajax, a timely return that would later influence the results in the night.
It was the Ajax side that took the early ascendancy as Ziyech and Tadic stretched Juve, the Old Ladies struggle to impose their self on the youthful lads from Ajax, but despite all the efforts from Ajax, Juve made their experience counted, as they took a late 1st half lead through the returning Ronaldo, Juve right back, Joao Cancelo put in a lofty pass for Ronaldo to nod in pass Ajax goalkeeper, whose weak hand could not prevent the goal. 1 nil it ended in favour of Juve at half time.
The 2nd half had barely started before Ajax got their equalizer, they started like a house on fire as it took less than 60 seconds into the restart for David Neres Campos to score a spectacular solo goal to level the scores. Neres had the ball in the net yet again but was correctly ruled offside. Ajax from then on was playing like they were on ‘gasoline’ but could get their winner thanks to their wastefulness in front of goal. The tie ended in a 1 all draw, a result that did not reflect the match proceedings.
So much to play for in the 2ng leg, to limit a Juventus side to just 2 shot on target is not a mere feat, Ajax did that comfortably. Running through everybody’s mind is Ajax’s feat over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, but if they really want to repeat such feat, they have to take the chances that come their way, because there won’t be too many at Turin.
Battle Lost But War Is Not Over For Ole’s Army.
Ole’s red and white army’ was 1 of many displays from fans at Old Trafford, such is the influence and believe Ole Solskjaer has brought back to not just the team, but the fans also. Fans now believe that a result is possible against any team, including Barcelona, and they have reasons to be confident, United had defeated teams like Juventus and PSG in this season’s campaign in their backyards.
There is a rich history between these 2 also, meeting 12 times in a UEFA competition, with United winning 3, drew 4 and lost 4 prior to yesterday night’s loss. Records show that 2 of Barcelona’s 5 UCL title wins was achieved beating United in the final, 2008-09’s 2-0 triumph and 2010-11’s 3-1 win. However, United also had the 1990-91 Cup Winners Cup triumph, 2-1 over their Spanish rival.
It was all Barca at Old Trafford as expected, and it did not take too long before Messi and Suarez combined to give Barca the lead in the 12th minute, Messi found space and lobbed over the United defence for Suarez to nod in off United’s Like Shaw for an own goal after VAR’s check. Barca’s goal seemed to have awakened United, as they began to take the game to Barca, but they could not find a breakthrough, United ended the half stronger.
The 2nd half started with United pressing for an equalizer, but it never came as United failed to threaten or register a shot on target, a rare one at Old Trafford, and the 1st since a 1 nil loss to AC Milan in 2005. United has also lost a back-to-back UCL home game under Ole Solskjaer. There was a scare for Barcelona and their fans at some point in the game, Leo Messi left with blood running off his nose after colliding with United’s Chris Smalling, but was soon mended, an injury that seems to have affected his performance for the remainder of the match.
United will draw confidence from their 2nd half display going into the 2nd leg at Camp Nou and also the victory over PSG at the Parc Des Princes still fresh in their memory, it not an insurmountable task.
UEFA Europa League:
Arsenal and Chelsea also won their 1 leg ties, Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Koulibally own-goal gave the gunners a home 2-0 1st leg advantage over Napoli of serie A, while Marcus Alonso late winner gave Chelsea a slim 1 nil win away at Slavia Praha. The 2nd leg will be played next week.
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