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Ajax are Champions League semi-finalists for the first time since 1997 - here’s their season so far

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Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday night with a massive win over Juventus in Turin.

The two sides went into the second leg all square after a 1-1 draw at the Johan Cruijff ArenA but goals from Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt saw the Dutch side win 2-1 last night. 

They advance to the last four 3-2 on aggregate, knocking out Cristiano Ronaldo's Juve - who were amongst the favourites - in the process. 

The result came as a shock to many - but for those who have followed Ajax this season, it wasn't actually that surprising. 

Here's the story of their impressive season so far.

EUROPEAN RUN 

Let's start with their road to the semi-finals of the Champions League because they've worked harder than any other team to get there. 

Erik ten Hag's side needed to get through three qualification rounds just to reach the group stage proper, meaning they've already played six more European games than all the other teams left.  

They beat Sturm Graz, Standard Liege and Dynamo Kyiv to earn their spot in Group E - and things got even tougher when they were drawn with Bayern Munich, Benfica and AEK Athens. 

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Rather impressively, Ajax negotiated through the group without losing a game, eventually taking the second spot - finishing behind Bayern. 

They beat Athens twice, won against and drew with Benfica and drew both times with Bayern to finish with 12 points. 

The Dutch side were then drawn against Real Madrid and many expected their European run to end at the round of 16. But that wasn't the case. 

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Despite a 2-1 loss at home to Los Blancos, Ajax turned things around at the Bernabeu with a memorable victory. 

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres scored twice in the opening 20 minutes before Dusan Tadic gave the visitors a commanding lead.

Marco Asensio pulled one back on 70 minutes, but 120 seconds later Lasse Schone wrapped the game up and sent Ajax through 5-3 on aggregate. 

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That famous performance set up a tie with Juventus in the quarter-finals and once again, Ajax's team of young stars upset the odds to overcome Cristiano Ronaldo and co.  

But it's not just in Europe that Ajax have been impressing - they're also doing very well domestically too. 

DOMESTIC SUCCESS

This season, Ajax are going head to head with PSV Eindhoven for the Eredivisie title. Both sides are level on 74 points with just four games to play - so it's very tight. 

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But the Amsterdam side have a superior goal difference of 78, which is 12 more than PSV, meaning that if they win all their games, Ajax will be champions bar a huge goal swing. 

On top of fighting for the title, Ten Hag's side also have the KNVB Cup final to look forward to. 

So, with just a few fixtures left, a famous treble is still on the cards. 

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Of course, domestic success is expected at Ajax, but the teams free-flowing 'Total Football' has been a joy to watch in the Champions League this season. 

PLAYING THE RIGHT WAY

They haven't just beaten the likes of Real and Juve - Ajax played them off the park. The philosophy of beautiful football has already been installed in their young players and it's clear for all to see.  

Having already knocked out two of the continent's top teams, it would be silly to write off the Dutch side again - even if their team has an average age of 24. 

Instead, we should look forward to their semi-final meeting with either Tottenham or Man City, because this year, Ajax have earned their place back amongst Europe's elite. 

Topics:
Ajax
Football
Real Madrid
Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo

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