Ajax and Real Madrid have met on Spanish soil five times to date. The Spaniards have won more games, although Ajax’s two victories in Bernabéu are important historically and vividly remembered by many Ajax fans. The sixth edition of Real Madrid – Ajax is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
Just like the last two editions from the fall of 2010 (2-0) and 2011 (3-0), Ajax lost the first meeting there in 1967. In the first round of Europacup I, Ajax went down in overtime, 2-1. Henk Groot scored the only Ajax goal in Spain during that game. Because of the 1-1 tie that had taken place in the first game in Amsterdam, Ajax’s European adventure came to an end that night.
Ajax proved that it could do better during the golden years in the seventies and nineties. Stefan Kovács’ Ajax reached the finals of the Europa Cup I in 1973 thanks to a goal by Gerrie Mühren in Bernabéu. Two weeks after a 2-1 win in Amsterdam, Ajax had secured a spot in the finals in Madrid. And they ended up defeating Juventus in that final match and won the Europacup I for the third year in a row. The most memorable meeting was the one in 1995. That away match also took place during some of Ajax’s most glorious years. A few months after winning the Champions League, Ajax gave Real a lesson in football. The fact that the score was ‘only’ 0-2 (thanks to goals by Jari Litmanen and Patrick Kluivert), was something of a miracle. Ajax had seen two goals be unjustly disqualified as offside, and they also hit the crossbar twice. The November 22, 1995 match would ultimately go down in history as the match after which Ajax received a standing ovation from the Spanish crowd.
The twelfth meeting between Ajax and Real Madrid on Tuesday evening will mostly be about a potential extension of Ajax’s stay in European football. Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have already assured themselves of a spot in the next round of UEFA Champions League play. Ajax has a one point lead on the English champion Manchester City going into the last group match. Should Ajax win in Madrid, then they will qualify for the knock-out phase of the Europa League on their own steam. In every other scenario, the outcome will depend on what happens at the Borussia Dortmund – Manchester City match. Should Borussia do its duty, and if City doesn’t win, then Ajax also goes into the draw on Friday.