Madrid

Madrid were comfortable victors on the two occasions the sides played last year. Picture - Reuters.

Two teams with an illustrious history in the competition will face-off at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid host Ajax Amsterdam in their UEFA Champions League group D encounter.

Madrid have made a difficult start to the season dropping points twice in five matches so far in the Spanish League. However, having lost at Levante last week, the Los Blancos returned to winning ways with a 6-2 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano, despite playing with ten-men.

They lead the Group D Champions League table after a 1-0 win against Dynamo Zagreb in their opening match two weeks back, while Ajax drew against Lyon.

Although Jose Mourinho's side are favourties, they have a few injury concerns, especially in defence. Pepe and Fabio Coentrao are both sidelined with injuries while Brazilian left-back Marcelo is suspended. It is likely that Ricardo Carvalho will partner Rafael Varane at the heart of the defence, while Alvaro Arbeloa will fill-in at left-back.

Meanwhile, Madrid assistant boss Aitor Karanka has backed German duo Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, both of whom have had a tough few weeks, to come good.

They are players who were important to the team last season and I'm sure this will also be the case this year, he said. Players always go through good times and some not so good times. Ozil demonstrated when he came on against Rayo what a good player he is. Sami is coming back from an injury and will certainly be a major player for us.

Madrid have also selected summer signing Hamit Altintop in the 21-man squad although Karanka added that the Turkish international wasn't yet fit enough to make his debut for the Spanish side.

Ajax will be without injured left-back Nicolai Boelesen meaning Vurnon Anita will fill in.

Last year, again in the group stages, Madrid were comfortable victors in the two games against the Dutch side, winning 2-0 at home and 4-0 in Netherlands. With what is on paper a stronger side, they're likely to be ease through.

Prediction

Madrid were impressive with ten-men against Rayo at the weekend, and have too much quality for Ajax. Expect a one-sided home victory.