Champions League Winner Odds: Ajax price slashed

Champions League Winner Odds: Ajax price slashed

Ajax odds to win the Champions League cut

There was a huge shock in the 2018/19 Champions League round of 16 as Ajax knocked out the previous season’s winners Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Dutch side produced an outstanding performance in the Spanish capital, winning 4-1 and therefore overturning a 2-1 deficit from the first leg to win 5-3 on aggregate. It brought to an end Real Madrid’s 1,011-day reign as European champions after the La Liga outfit had won the competition in each of the previous three campaigns.

It was a result which almost defied belief, especially when you consider that it was the Eredivisie club’s first knockout tie in Europe’s top tier tournament in 13 years and that six of their starting 11 were aged 22 and under.

Dusan Tadic was the star of the show. The Serbian looked a different player from the one who left Southampton for £10 million last summer as he carved through the Madrid defence time and time again. He finished the evening with one goal and two assists, with many arguing that it was the best performance from a visiting player at the Bernabeu since Lionel Messi’s for Barcelona in 2011.

As a result of their famous victory, Ajax’s odds to win the Champions League this season have been significantly cut. Prior to the match in Madrid last night the Dutch outfit were priced as high as 200/1 with bet365 to win Europe’s elite competition, but that has been slashed down to 25/1 whilst some bookmakers including Unibet now have them at odds of 20/1.

Ajax Champions League

The Ajax players celebrate their stunning 4-1 win against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the UEFA Champions League.

Can Ajax win the Champions League after Real Madrid win?

Ajax are no strangers to European success of course. They have won the Champions League on four previous occasions, the last of which was in the 1994/95 season when they beat AC Milan 1-0 in the final. However in more recent times they have struggled to compete with the major clubs across Europe, largely because their domestic league is not as strong and they do not have the same level of finance.

But based on their showing at the Bernabeu, could this be the year that they make a return to the top of European football?

There is still a long way to go of course, and some outstanding teams left in the draw such as Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain. But beating the reigning champions will give them bags of confidence and they will now believe they are capable of beating anyone on their day.

They have an outstanding young team, featuring top talents such as Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech which is mixed with experienced players like Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic.

It has echoes of the Monaco team of 2016/17, when the French side had a talented young group of players including Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy and of course Kylian Mbappe. That year they managed to reach the semi-finals and also win their domestic league and on their showing in Spain, Ajax will be hoping for a similar outcome.

The problem is, as Monaco found, the Dutch side will struggle to keep this squad together beyond this year. De Jong has already agreed to join Barcelona in the summer whilst there is plenty of interest for de Ligt too, with Arsenal thought to be one of the clubs keen on signing the centre half.

With that in mind, this looks set to be Ajax’s best chance of going even deeper in the Champions League. They will be eager to see who they draw in the quarter-finals, but whoever they get this is an opportunity that they will look to grasp with both hands.

AFC Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong was outstanding against Real Madrid.

Real Madrid miss Cristiano Ronaldo badly

As for Real Madrid, it was a night to forget. There can be no doubting that what the Spanish giants have achieved in the Champions League in recent seasons is nothing short of remarkable. Winning the trophy once is hard enough, so to win it three times in succession was an unbelievable feat which is likely to go unmatched for many years.

But this season they have been nowhere near the levels they have set in the previous three and that is down, largely, to the loss of two key figures at the club.

Manager Zinedine Zidane stood down from his role at the end of last season – perhaps he could see this season of struggle coming – and both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari have failed to bring any kind of success.

Cristiano Ronaldo also left the Spanish capital for a new challenge at Juventus last summer and quite frankly Los Blancos have not replaced the Portuguese international. Apart from Ronaldo’s first season at the Bernabeu, Madrid reached at least the semi-finals every year in Europe whilst he was there. He was their talisman and the man who scored the bulk of their goals.

Indeed if you look at their leading goal scorers in Europe since the start of the 2015/16 season, Ronaldo has significantly more than any other Real Madrid player. He has 43 goals to his name in that time, with Karim Benzema having bagged the second most but with just 18 strikes.

With him gone, it has left a void which the likes of Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio have failed to fill. Players such as Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have also failed to produce anywhere near the standard previously set either, whilst Solari has now overseen the Real Madrid’s two heaviest home Champions League defeats despite only having been in charge for 113 days (the other a 3-0 loss to CSKA Moscow).

With the club now out of the Champions League, Copa del Rey and the La Liga title race there could well be a summer of major change at the Bernabeu. There is surely now no way back for Solari and bookmakers have already got Jose Mourinho as odds on favourite to replace him. Whilst in terms of the playing staff, expect plenty of ins and outs in a few months time.

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