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Sports

Ajax boys told to grow up against Juventus

media Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag says Juventus will start the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final as favourites. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag has urged the young stars in his team to show their maturity in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Juventus on Tuesday night.

The Dutch outift go into the clash at the Juventus Arena with the score at 1-1 after the first leg.

Ten Hag, whose side eliminated holders Real Madrid in the last 16, conceded that Juventus had the edge to advance to the semi-final.

"This is the perfect challenge for us," he added. "After the 1-1 in Amsterdam, Juventus are favourites. Being able to beat Real Madrid was a remarkable achievement and hopefully we'll be able to have another memorable match."

"Remarkable" and "memorable" are epithets which barely do justice to the exploits of the night in early March in Madrid.

Madrid led 2-1 from the first leg but Ajax swept past them 4-1 with a relentlessly fearless display of attacking football at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We believe we can definitely compete with these giants," added Ten Hag. "We're a young team but play like adults, we showed it against Real Madrid."

Relentless

The former Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is now of the parish of Turin and Juventus coach Massimo Allegri said the 34-year-old would be a key figure in the second leg.

During the last 16 second leg against Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo scored a hat trick to give Juventus a 3-2 aggregate win.

"Cristiano has extraordinary quality," said Allegri. "He's got great skill and quality and during a match becomes a different player.

"In certain moments he becomes an unstoppable player and you can see it on his face. Thank God he's playing for us and not the opponents."

The Ajax heroics in Madrid highlighted the power and potential of the players.

"It's impressive how Ajax play," said Juventus midfielder Emre Can, who missed the first leg due to injury.

"But we're not afraid of them and we want to play our game. We have to go with the same attitude as game against Atletico. For sure we won't play for 0-0."

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