AFC Ajax and Juventus will reprise a rivalry that has been played out at the very summit of the European game when they meet in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
Previous meetings • Ajax and Juventus are meeting for the 11th time at the Amsterdam ArenA. The home side have come off worse in the previous fixtures, with two wins to Juve’s five.
• Their two most famous encounters came in the finals of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup in 1973 and 1996.
• The clubs’ European Cup final showdown in Belgrade on 30 May 1973 was their first meeting – and Johnny Rep’s fourth-minute goal handed Stefan Kovács’s Ajax side their third consecutive continental crown, meaning they got to keep the trophy.
• Dismissed as Juventus coach in January, Ciro Ferrara was in the Bianconeri lineup when they gained revenge in the 1996 UEFA Champions League final in Rome. After a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes, the Turin side won 4-2 on penalties, with Ferrara converting his team’s first spot-kick.
• Juve had previously beaten Ajax on away goals in the third round of the 1974/75 UEFA Cup and then 3-0 on penalties in the 1977/78 European Cup quarter-finals after two 1-1 draws.
• Ferrara enjoyed further success against the Amsterdam outfit in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, where Juve prevailed 6-2 on aggregate prior to a 3-1 final defeat by BV Borussia Dortmund in Munich.
• The clubs’ most recent meeting came in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage, when Fabio Capello’s Juve recorded 1-0 home and away wins over Ronald Koeman’s Ajax.
• The lineups for their last encounter in Amsterdam on 15 September 2004 were:
Ajax: Stekelenburg, Heitinga, Maxwell, Pienaar, Van der Vaart, Obodai (Anastasiou, 72), De Jong, Sneijder (De Mul, 67), Sonck, Grygera* (Escudé, 76), Mitea.
Match background • In total, Ajax have played 37 games against Italian clubs with the record W11 D11 L15 (W5 D7 L4 in Amsterdam). Juve’s record from 16 games against Dutch opposition is W7 D4 L5 (W2 D2 L3 in the Netherlands).
• Ajax have appeared in the round of 32 in four of the last six campaigns. They were eliminated at this stage by AJ Auxerre in 2005/06 and Werder Bremen in 2006/07 but progressed to last 16 at the expense of an ACF Fiorentina side featuring Juventus’s Felipe Melo last season.
• Prior to a 3-1 defeat by RSC Anderlecht in their final UEFA Europa League group stage game, Ajax had been unbeaten in eight European games at the Amsterdam ArenA (four wins and four draws).
• Juventus last played in the UEFA Cup – now the UEFA Europa League – almost ten years ago, losing 4-1 on aggregate to RC Celta de Vigo in the fourth round in early March 2000.
• Juve have scored just once in their last five European away games – Mauro Camoranesi’s winning goal at Maccabi Haifa FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage. However, two of those other games were useful 0-0 draws.
Team facts • New Juventus boss Alberto Zaccheroni took on Ajax as coach of Udinese Calcio in the second round of the 1997/98 UEFA Cup, with his side winning 2-1 at home but losing the tie on away goals with a 1-0 defeat in Amsterdam.
• Czech defender Zdeněk Grygera played for Ajax in their last tie against Juventus before moving to the Turin club on a free transfer in the summer of 2007.
• Ajax’s on-loan Brazilian striker Kerlon boasts some experience of Serie A football, having represented AC Chievo Verona last season prior to joining FC Internazionale Milano.
• Ajax beat Juve’s city rivals Torino FC on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw to win the 1991/92 UEFA Cup final.
• Juventus playmaker Diego scored for Werder Bremen when they beat a Hamburger SV side coached by Ajax boss Martin Jol in last season’s UEFA Cup semi-final – Diego hit Bremen’s first goal as they overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-2 win at Hamburg.
• Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Del Piero were in the Italy side which beat the Netherlands 3-1 on penalties following a 0-0 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA in the UEFA EURO 2000™ semi-finals.
• Ajax’s Luis Suárez had more shots on goal than any other player in the group stage, 26 in total. The Uruguayan scored just twice, and notably had two penalties saved in his side’s 2-1 win against FC Timişoara.
• The tie concludes in Turin on 25 February with the winners to face the victors of the contest between Fulham FC and FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 on 11 and 18 March, playing the first leg at home.
Ajax Suspended: none Misses next match if booked: Luis Suárez, Jan Vertonghen Players added to squad: Hyunjun Suk, Nicolás Lodeiro, Nathaniel Will Players removed from squad: Bruno Silva, Dario Cvitanich, Kerlon, Daley Blind, Jeffrey Sarpong
Juventus Suspended: none Misses next match if booked: Mauro Camoranesi, Felipe Melo Players added to squad: Antonio Candreva, Michele Paolucci Players removed from squad: Cristian Molinaro, Tiago, Lorenzo Ariaudo