Real Madrid – Ajax Preview: Frank de Boer's side look to clinch Europa League spot

Jose Mourinho goes into the match knowing that their second place finish in Group D is secured. Due to their head-to-head results with Borussia Dortmund they cannot win the group, so the Real Madrid coach may opt to freshen up his starting XI.

It is unlikely to be a complete overhaul, but Raphael Varane has been impressive in his rare appearances this season, and may be given a starting berth at the back due to Alvaro Arbeloa’s suspension. Sergio Ramos could be shifted out to right-back.

Xabi Alonso has been playing a lot of football recently and may be allowed to sit this one out, with Luka Modric ready to drop back into the deeper role in midfield.

Despite resting some faces, Mourinho will still want to end the Group Stage on a high, so expect big hitters Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to still feature.

Ajax, on the other hand, have plenty to play for. The Eredivisie champions are placed third in the group and find themselves one point ahead of Manchester City, and with a place in the Europa League up for grabs, they will need to put in a good performance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ryan Babel is still sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, so there could be a chance in attack for Danny Hoesen, who scored in Ajax’s 3-1 victory over PSV at the weekend.

  • Real Madrid’s seven-game winning streak at home in the Champions League was ended by a 2-2 draw with Dortmund on matchday four.
  • Los Blancos‘ home record against teams from the Netherlands is W9 D1 L2.
  • Ajax have failed to win on any of their last five visits to Spain, losing four. Their last success was a 3-2 victory at Atletico Madrid in the 1996/97 season.
  • During four years as a Barcelona player between 1999 and 2003, Ajax coach Frank de Boer faced Madrid nine times in the Liga and the Champions League.
  • De Boer played under Madrid coach Jose Mourinho at Barcelona. The Portuguese was assistant to Louis van Gaal in the year 2000.

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