MADRID – Ajax Amsterdam sporting director Marc Overmars labeled Real Madrid on Monday as the favorite to qualify for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
Madrid will host Ajax on Tuesday for the second leg of the round of 16, having beaten the Dutch side 2-1 in the first leg on Feb. 13.
Overmars told EFE in Madrid that his team will fight to turn things around, although he admitted the odds are not in their favor, putting them at “20 percent for Ajax and 80 percent for Real Madrid.”
He predicted a tough match against the Spanish side, which needs to bounce back after two defeats to Barcelona.
Asked whether Madrid’s recent losses will affect Tuesday’s clash he said the situation is double-edged, as a loss could make the Spanish team vulnerable or force them to lick their wounds in the continental tournament.
Ajax, which holds the second spot in the Dutch Eredivisie table, has not won the Champions League title since its fourth success in 1995.
The team reached the final the following season, only to lose to Juventus on a penalty shootout.
The Dutch soccer federation decided to postpone the league match Ajax was due to play against PEC Zwolle at the weekend, so the players can focus on the Champions League clash.
In the first season without Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Serie A Juventus, and French coach Zinedine Zidan, Barcelona beat Madrid at home at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Barcelona also defeated Madrid 3-0 in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal on Feb. 27, knocking the team out of the tournament after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Barcelona is set to take on Valencia in the cup final on May 25.
The second defeat came thanks to a first-half goal by Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic in La Liga.
The defeat widened the gap between leader Barcelona and third-place Madrid to 12 points, a further blow to its La Liga title hopes.
Madrid’s title option is limited to the Champions League, the tournament it has won a record of 13 times, including four out of the most recent five.