Tag Archives: Ajax

Benfica vs Ajax – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In a tie that is highly likely to be entertaining, two excellent young teams go head-to-head as Portuguese giants Benfica clash Eredivisie champions Ajax for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.

Route to Last 16

SL Benfica arguably caused the shock of the group stages as they pipped Barcelona to the runners-up spot in a group also containing Bayern Munich and Dinamo Kyiv.

They claimed a 3-0 win over the La Liga outfit at the Estadio Da Luz, before a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou meant they only needed to match Barca’s result in the final game. They won 2-0 against Kyiv to seal their spot, having scored seven goals and conceded nine.

Jorge Jesus has since left the club however, replaced by Nelson Verissimo until the end of the season.

Ajax completed a stunning group stage phase with six wins out of six, as Sebastian Haller scored ten goals to lead the scoring charts, scoring in all six games.

Erik Ten Haag’s side dominated a group including Sporting CP, Dortmund and Besiktas, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five to assert themselves as dark horses for the title.

Team news

Benfica have been in good form domestically but were held to a 2-2 draw most recently against Boavista. Grimaldo returned to the team and scored in that game, in a huge boost to the side.

Darwin Nunez has been in exceptional form this season with 21 goals in 26 games and will continue in attack, but Haris Seferovic is missing for the hosts. Goncalo Ramos should start in his place.

Ajax will be without trio Brian Brobbey, Martin Stekelenburg and Sean Klaiber, while Andre Onana is likely to continue to sit in the stands ahead of his summer move to Inter Milan.

Haller will continue in attack, while superstar winger Antony will continue to support him along with Dusan Tadic as they look to continue their 100% record throughout the competition.

Breakdown and Prediction

Benfica’s 442 system will be in place as usual to try and find a hole in the Ajax defence, but the Dutch giants are going to be well equipped for this fixture.

Having already been to Lisbon and dominated Sporting, they’re coming up against a lesser side who play a system more suited to them and they should have too much for them in attack.

Benfica have got plenty of firepower and defensively are quite strong, so don’t rule out an upset in the home leg but realistically this is an Ajax side at their absolute peak under Ten Hag.

The Dutch giants will dominate the tempo of the game and possession and slowly but surely chip away before scoring goals and claiming a routine win over two legs.

Benfica 1-3 Ajax
Ajax 2-0 Benfica
(Ajax to qualify 5-1 on aggregate)

Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.

The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Remembering Greatness: Edgar Davids

Football in 2021 is defined by statistics and roles on the pitch more than ever before in the past.

There is no such thing as just being a defender, or just being a midfielder any more. Now you’re either a ball-playing defender or a no-nonsense centre back, you could be a box-to-box midfielder who excels defensively or a technical wizard going forward.

It’s all more specific now, but one player from the 90’s and 00’s that fits into any central midfielder role that you want to put him in is Edgar Davids.

A combative defensive midfielder, with the flair and personality of a number ten, Davids represented some of the biggest clubs in Europe and won everything at club level there was to win.

With his flowing dreadlocks he was always a stand-out player on the pitch. He had an ability to make everything look simple and easy. Despite being a defensive midfielder by nature, he had that aura about him that struck fear into the opposition. He was fleet of foot, creative, expressive and an absolute joy to watch.

The best comparison I could possibly give to anyone that hasn’t watched him would be to say he was N’Golo Kante mixed with a bit of Riyad Mahrez. His left foot was special and his attacking skills were great, yet it was defensively where he pulled up most trees in his career.

Football. UEFA Champions League Final. Vienna, Austria. 24th May 1995. Ajax 1 v AC Milan 0. Members of the Ajax team celebrate with the trophy as photographers take their picture. L-R: Finidi George, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen and Nwankwo Kanu. : News Photo

He broke into the Ajax team back in 1991 after joining the club as a 12-year-old, overcoming two previous rejections from the club. His fierce style of play in the middle of the park saw him nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ by Louis van Gaal during his time in Amsterdam and the energy he displayed in the infamous 3-4-3 system helped bring the club a UEFA Champions League title in 1995.

The following year in 1996 when Ajax reached the final once again, Davids missed the first penalty of the shootout as the club went on to lose but he never let that affect his career. It was almost a pillar of what he stood for on the pitch for the rest of his career – keep going, never stop going.

He also helped the Dutch side to three Eredivisie titles, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup before he decided to move on at just 23-years-old having already been part of so much success.

It wasn’t all roses for him when he made the move to Italy initially, joining AC Milan under Oscar Tabarez. Milan struggled and Tabarez was sacked in December, replaced until the end of the season by the legendary Arrigo Sacchi. He made 25 appearances in all competitions as they finished in 11th place, then after just ten appearances under new boss Fabio Capello he was allowed to join rivals Juventus.

The legendary Marcelo Lippi referred to him as “my one-man engine room” and often used him in the centre alongside French playmaker Zinedine Zidane, with the two striking up a super partnership and friendship. Even after Zidane left for Real Madrid, Davids continued to have great success with the Turin side.

He won three Serie A titles, two Supercoppa Italianas and even an Intertoto Cup, while also reaching yet another UEFA Champions League final which he lost on penalties.

Following that loss, Davids found himself on the fringes of the Stadio Delle Alpi and in January 2004 he joined FC Barcelona on loan for the remainder of the season. At this point Frank Rijkaard was under immense pressure, with Los Cules sitting in fifth in La Liga.

Davids’ arrival sparked an upturn in Barca’s fortunes that season and while they didn’t quite make it to the title they did end up finishing in second place behind eventual champions Valencia.


Davids completed the trifecta in Serie A by joining Inter Milan after his loan wasn’t made permanent. He only stayed there for a year before joining Tottenham and succeeding in the Premier League during his 18 month stint at the club, finishing in fifth before returning back to Ajax and ending his club career with Barnet as a player-manager.

His international career was also tremendous, representing the Oranje 74 times over 11 years. He was known for being outspoken, once saying in a radio interview that manager Guus Hiddink “had to take his head out of some players’ asses.”

He was named in the team of the tournament at the World Cup 1998 as Holland finished fourth, as well as at Euro 2000 and then in 2004 he was named captain of the national team by the legendary Marco Van Basten.

There are some players that will always be remembered for what they do on the pitch and some will be remembered for reasons nothing to do with football.

Davids is one who will be remembered for skill, tenacity and ability, as well as his trademark dreadlocks and glasses. If there was ever a footballer that defined the ‘streets will remember’ moniker it’s him.