Ajax v Man City preview
All to play for in Amsterdam
By Tim Oscroft. Last Updated: 24/10/12 11:58am
The pressure is on Roberto Mancini to deliver in Europe
There will be tension in the air at the Amsterdam Arena when Ajax and Manchester City look to grab a Champions League lifeline after their poor starts to the campaign.
Opta fact box
- Ajax have lost three and won none of their last four home games against English opponents in Europe.
- Manchester City have lost four and won one of their five away games in the European Cup/Champions League.
- Manchester City have allowed their opponents more shots on target against them than any other team in the Champions League - 22.
City were minutes away from a famous win in the Bernabeu before Real Madrid hit back to take all three points, but the Blues looked distinctly second-best against Borussia Dortmund on their own turf.
Mario Balotelli's late penalty and a goalkeeping masterclass from Joe Hart salvaged what could turn out to be a crucial point going into their-back-to-back fixtures with the side propping up Group D.
Ajax's narrow defeat in Dortmund was followed by a heavy loss at home to Real, meaning they must go for the jugular against a defence that has had its problems throughout the season so far.
City do not seem to have a problem scoring with whatever combination Roberto Mancini selects in attack. Edin Dzeko is in good form and should have done enough to warrant a start, but Mancini must weigh up the merits of who to pick from Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Balotelli.
David Silva's absence with a hamstring problem means City may lack a little artistry, but nevertheless they will be looking for a maximum return from the next two games with the daunting prospects of Real at home and Dortmund away to follow.
The Champions League was the next stage of the Manchester City "project" once the Premier League was secured, and defeat in the Netherlands would deal a serious blow to their European ambitions.
Coach Frank de Boer has several injuries to contend with ahead of this crucial game.
Nicolai Boilesen, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, Thulani Serero, Davy Klaassen and Jody Lukoki are all unlikely to feature.
Ajax go into the match on the back of a draw in their last outing, having thrown away a winning position against Heracles to concede two late goals that saw the game end 3-3.
Maicon, Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and David Silva have not travelled to Amsterdam due to varying injuries.
Silva was said to be poised to return, but the mercurial midfielder is having treatment on his injured hamstring in Spain.
Roberto Mancini may opt to partner Vincent Kompany with Micah Richards in central defence, with Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 22 Cillessen
- 12 Riedewald
- 4 Moisander
- 2 van Rhijn
- 3 Veltman
- 25 Serero
- 16 Andersen
- 10 Klaassen
- 20 Schone
- 11 Kishna
- 19 Milik
Team taken from Ajax vs Excelsior (Dutch Eredivisie) on Sunday 21st December 2014
- 1 Hart
- 5 Zabaleta
- 26 Demichelis
- 20 Mangala
- 11 Kolarov
- 42 Toure Y
- 25 Fernandinho
- 15 Navas
- 21 Silva
- 8 Nasri
- 7 Milner
Team taken from Manchester City vs Crystal Palace (Barclays Premier League) on Saturday 20th December 2014
UEFA Champions League
Wed 24th Oct - Group C
Zenit1 - 0Anderlecht
Malaga1 - 0AC Milan
Wed 24th Oct - Group A
FC Porto3 - 2Dynamo Kiev
Din Zagreb0 - 2PSG
Wed 24th Oct - Group B
Arsenal0 - 2Schalke
Montpellier1 - 2Olympiakos
Wed 24th Oct - Group D
B Dortmund2 - 1R Madrid
Ajax3 - 1Man City
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H
Ajax v Man City
Pablo Zabaleta feels Man City should take positives from their comeback against Ajax despite failing to claim victory.
Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry is not prepared to give up on another Champions League campaign just yet.
Frank de Boer has defended Roberto Mancini, instead suggesting that some of Manchester City's players "go to sleep".