Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax Shock Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus in UCL Quarter-Finals

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2019

Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt and Lasse Schone celebrate at the end of the Champions League, quarterfinal, second leg soccer match between Juventus and Ajax, at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Ajax won 2-1 and advances to the semifinal on a 3-2 aggregate. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Ajax shocked Juventus to advance to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, beating the Italians 2-1 in Turin. The aggregate score was 3-2.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the hosts the lead in the first half, but their advantage didn't last long, as Donny van de Beek tied things up after a lucky deflection.

The visitors dominated after the break, and a strong finish from Matthijs de Ligt gave them a deserved lead and eventual spot in the semi-finals.

The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam a week ago, leaving Juventus as the favourites to advance. The Bianconeri were second-best for most of Tuesday's clash, however, and barely threatened goalkeeper Andre Onana. 

   

Juventus Must Move on from Allegri, Dybala in Summer

Juventus started the season by obliterating their transfer record in signing Ronaldo and bringing Leonardo Bonucci back from AC Milan, a clear sign they were all-in on winning the Champions League during the current window.

Fast-forward to Tuesday's loss, and the 2018-19 campaign has to be considered a failure. Yes, the Bianconeri are going to win Serie A yet again, but there will be no glory in Europe. They arguably even took a step back, as they won't win the Coppa Italia, either.

Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Major changes are likely as a result. Ronaldo is 34 years old, just as Giorgio Chiellini―his absence was a huge blow in this tie―so the Bianconeri have little time to waste and will push all of their chips forward on next season.

The first who most likely will―and should―go is manager Massimiliano Allegri. He has achieved incredible heights in Turin and will go down as one of the club's best ever managers, but it's time for a change. The Bianconeri have played drab, uninspired football for much of the season, leading to plenty of criticism that only went away temporarily after the phenomenal 3-0 comeback against Atletico Madrid.

On Tuesday, it returned, and rightly so:

There are seemingly limited options out there―Zinedine Zidane would have been an ideal candidate before he returned to Real Madrid―but the Bianconeri need a spark; it's time to move on.

Expect Paulo Dybala to follow Allegri out the door as well. The Argentina international regressed tremendously this season and never clicked with Ronaldo. His fall from grace has been sudden, per sportswriter Siavoush Fallahi:

Juventus will need to strengthen certain key areas―most notably midfield and centre-back, where they desperately need depth and upside―and his sale could bring in the funds needed. There have already been rumours he could also be used to bring in Benfica starlet Joao Felix, who shares the same agent as Ronaldo, per AS (h/t Football Italia).

Dybala needs a fresh start, and Juventus need to put the best possible team around Ronaldo and Chiellini before they leave the club. The 25-year-old isn't a part of that group of 11 players any longer.

    

What's Next?

Juventus host rivals Fiorentina on Saturday and can claim the Serie A title with a win or draw. Ajax visit Groningen, also on Saturday.

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