Real Madrid sorely missed their intentionally absent captain Sergio Ramos as the defending champions were thrashed 4-1 at home by Ajax Amsterdam and crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday, manager Santiago Solari said after the defeat.
Ramos was suspended for the last-16 second leg after picking up a yellow card in their 2-1 victory in the Netherlands and had his ban doubled to two games by UEFA after the 32-year-old admitted he had deliberately tried to get booked. The Spain international’s hopes of missing Tuesday’s match to reduce his chances of a ban ruling him out of a more important game later in the competition ended up looking like a spectacular miscalculation, however.
Ramos was forced to watch from the sidelines as, rather than take another step towards a fourth straight title, Real were torn apart by an exciting yet inexperienced Ajax side.
“Without talking badly about any of our players, of course we missed our captain,” Solari told Movistar. Defeat heaped more pressure on Solari in his first season in charge of the club but the former Real midfielder said the outgoing champions should not push the panic button yet.
“Easy moments are easy for everyone, you can climb up and surf them, but difficult moments you have to show bravery,” the Argentine added. “What we must do is remain as calm as possible in such a difficult moment and take it on with the best character. Madrid is bigger than any of us, it always returns and returns stronger.”
Ajax’s European adventure far from over, says skipper De Ligt
Ajax Amsterdam captain Matthijs de Ligt is confident his side can go on to cause more Champions League mayhem after booking a surprise quarter-final place with a stunning upset victory over defending champions Real Madrid. Four-times European champions Ajax overcame a 2-1 first-leg deficit, triumphing 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in Tuesday’s second leg to advance 5-3 on aggregate and send the Spanish giants crashing out.
“We will see how far we go but we are certainly not finished yet,” the teenage defender told Dutch reporters. “We made it difficult for Bayern Munich,” he said of Ajax’s performance in the group phase, “and now we’ve knocked Real Madrid out.
“It was no surprise to us. Real give a lot of room away and if you are prepared to play football you know you can make it very difficult for them.” The 19-year-old said Ajax were more clinical in Madrid than they had been during their narrow home defeat in the first leg.
“The only thing we didn’t do in that game was score (enough) but tonight we got our first two chances into the net,” he added. “Were we at our best? I think so, otherwise you don’t beat a team like Real Madrid. “We knew it would be difficult but that there would also be opportunities.”
Coach Erik ten Hag said the performance had been “as close to perfection as you can get” and that his young Ajax side deserved to progress.
“Everything worked for us but we forced that ourselves,” he added. “I think that over the two matches we proved we were good enough to advance and it was with great class that we were able to show our qualities in Madrid.”