There was much to admire and savour about the manner in which a young and talented Ajax side knocked holders Real Madrid out of the Champions League.
I had tipped Ajax to win the first leg of the tie, in the Netherlands. With some good fortune, Real Madrid won that leg 1-2. I didn’t have a bet or offer a tip for the second leg in Spain. Perhaps I should have. After all, the La Liga season is already over for Real Madrid and they are out of the Copa Del Rey.
Twice in the space of one week Real Madrid lost to Barcelona, including an El Clasico on home soil. Now they have been humiliated by Ajax.
Some Real Madrid players were frank in their appraisal of the defeat. ‘Today we have to be honest … we deserve to go out,’ said Toni Kroos.
Dani Carvajal was in tears after the match. He said: “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s so bad. In a week we lost it all, we lost it all at home. We have to stand up, we can’t hide, we know we have had a shit season and that’s it.”
Sid Lowe, who covers Spanish football for The Guardian newspaper tweeted:- “Seven days, three home defeats, 8-1 agg score, all three competitions gone, one after other, cup, league, European Cup, season over on 5 March, Barça now historically better in clásicos 96-95… probably the worst week Real Madrid have ever had.”
Clearly all is not well at Real Madrid and a clear out of players come the summer looks inevitable. They can no longer compete on the same financial stage as the likes of Manchester City. Real Madrid is a big club with bigger debts.
Add to that a disunited dressing room and, in Sergio Ramos, a player who deliberately got himself booked in a previous match so that he would be suspended for the second leg at home against Ajax, so confident was he that is colleagues would have no trouble progressing to the next round of the Champions League. You called that one wrong, Sergio.
Rumours abound that Jose Mourinho may be on his way back to Real Madrid. Little astonishes me when it comes to modern day football, but that would. There are also stories emerging from Spain that the club is trying to persuade Zidane to make a quick return. He managed the club to three Champions League victories.