The tone of some of the reports we encountered surrounding the 4 – 1 beat down the Ajax Football Club laid on Real Madrid in Champions League was almost jubilant.
With three consecutive European titles and more than 1,000 days since winning the first, Real Madrid is having some time of it adjusting to life after Ronaldo.
Madrid was eliminated in the round of 16 by Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid went out with a 5 – 3 aggregate.
“We were not going to win the Champions League forever,” were the words of Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez (we may need to take our lunch now). “Reigns eventually come to an end. Something like this was going to happen sooner or later,” Fernandez offered.
It was something of a Daniel v. Goliath scenario, with Madrid being the giant, in case anyone was wondering. They built their football dynasty by assembling high-priced, proven talent, while Ajax relies heavily on talent groomed from the ranks of their junior leagues.
Ajax scored early, with Hakim Ziyech in the seventh minute, followed by David Neres in the 18th.
Both those first half goals were set up by Dusan Tadic, who solidified the advantage with a second half goal in the 62nd minute. The Dutch team sealed the win with a free kick in the 72nd by Lasse Schone, after Marco Asenio had pulled the hosts closer a couple minutes earlier.
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag told reporters, “We always believed we had a chance, and we had 4,000 fans here who believed as well.”
This is the first time since 2006 that Ajax had a chance for the last 16 and their next match will be their first quarterfinal since 2003.
More improbable, perhaps, is that this was the fourth straight home loss in all competitions dating back to 2004. Two home losses to Barcelona set a tone of demoralization, but considering the past three years, Real Madrid has nothing over which to hang its head.