Cristiano Ronaldo (C) of Real Madrid celebrates with Mesut Ozil (L) and Gonzalo Higuain (R) after scoring Real's 4th goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. Los Merengues take on Ajax Amsterdam in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, September 27, 2011.
Los Blancos have a number of injury worries, but will still be favorites over Frank de Boer's Ajax
If their meetings in the previous edition of the UEFA Champions League are any indication, Real Madrid shouldn't have much of a problem dealing with Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday evening. However, Ajax have made a number of key acquisitions over the last two transfer windows and are playing confident football at the moment under new manager Frank de Boer.
The system is the same, as always. There have been some minor variations over the years, but for the most part, there's really only one way for Ajax to play football. They're playing an attractive style with a base 4-3-3 formation, and all of their new and young players are fitting into the team well.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have struggled a bit. They inexplicably lost to Levante two weeks ago, then drew their following game against Racing Santander. When Rayo Vallecano scored after just 15 seconds on Saturday, it felt like disaster was on the horizon for Los Blancos, but they recovered brilliantly and ultimately won the match 6-2.
Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe are still expected to be out for Madrid on Tuesday. Raphael Varane and Raul Albiol started against Rayo, but Mourinho might opt for a little more experience against Ajax, moving Sergio Ramos to the center and starting Alvaro Arbeloa. Also, expect Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira to regain their starting places. Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain are competing for one starting spot, and it's a toss-up. For Ajax, it's quite possible that Frank de Boer makes no changes.
Real Madrid vs. Ajax Amsterdam
Projected Real Madrid lineup (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Marcelo, Albiol, Ramos, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso; Di Maria, Özil, Ronaldo; Benzema
Projected Ajax lineup (4-3-3): Vermeer; Anita, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, van der Wiel; Janssen, De Jong, Eriksen; Boerrigter, Sigthorsson, Sulejmani
Time: 8:45 pm local, 7:45 pm BST, 2:45 pm ET
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
TV: DirecTV Soccer (USA - English), FOX Deportes (USA - Spanish), Rogers Sportsnet One (Canada)
Online: FoxSoccer.tv (USA), UEFA.com (International)
We'll have live coverage of Real Madrid vs. Ajax right here at SB Nation. For more on Los Merengues, check out SB Nation's Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. For more on the other Champions League fixtures and the entire world of football, head on over to SB Nation Soccer.