Date:Tuesday October 23 2012
So with City clicking into top gear on the domestic front, along comes that pesky, troublesome Champions League as the Blues head to the Netherlands for a crucial meeting with Ajax...
It's been a distinctly iffy start to this season's Euro campaign for the 'EPL' champions. A potentially famous win in the Bernabeu was thrown away at the last minute, then City were, let's be honest, outpassed and outclassed by an underrated Borussia Dortmund on home turf. That such a stellar cast looked second-best for so long should trouble Roberto Mancini, but a couple of decent wins since on the home front have made those worries go away - until now.
But that decent form in the last two games (albeit two weeks apart) and the prospect of facing the weakest team in a strong group mean that the runes are in City's favour ahead of Wednesday. This Ajax side may be reigning Dutch champions, but the early 70s vintage of 'your Cruyffs, your Haans' (sorry) et al they are not and two defeats in Europe leave them staring down the barrel more than City.
Whichever line-up Roberto opts for in Amsterdam should be too good for the home side. Maicon and Garcia will be absent, and it will be interesting to see whether he includes Micah as he was often left out in favour of Zabaleta in Europe last season. Nastasic seems to be the favoured partner for Kompany in Europe, but the skipper needs a good performance after the mistake that kicked off the incident that ended with Milner's dismissal on Saturday.
I wouldn't be surprised if Roberto springs some kind of selectorial surprise though - Kolarov on the left ahead of Clichy? Micah partnering Vincenzo? Anything could happen - and probably will! (That's enough of the clichés - Ed.)
Up front I'd like to see Edin Dzeko given a chance from the off partnering Aguero, but Tevez is playing really well at the moment and would be just as good. Sorry Mario, there's too much riding on this for you to be risked - but I reserve the right to be wrong.
For those of you missing a bit of de Jong action, as it were, Ajax are skippered by Siem de Jong. He's no Nigel, but then again who is? (Let it go, he's gone! - Ed.)
And, I've got to the end of the article without even a sideways mention of all the other, ahem, 'delights' that Amsterdam has to offer. For those of you going to that wonderful city, have a great time. And enjoy the football as well.
Possible team: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany, Kolarov, Milner, Barry, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko.
all times East Manchester
We 24 Oct 19h45 Ajax, Amsterdam Arena, CL
Sa 27 Oct 17h30 Swansea City, The Etihad, PL
Sa 03Nov 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park, PL
Tu 06 Nov 19h45 Ajax, The Etihad, CL
Su 11 Nov 13h30 Spurs, The Etihad, PL
Sa 17 Nov 15h00 Aston Villa, The Etihad, PL
We 21 Nov 19h45 Real Madrid, The Etihad, CL
Su 25 Nov 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, PL
We 28 Nov 20h00 Wigan, DW Stadium, PL
Date:Tuesday October 23 2012
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Dzeko Not Roma Bound (Tuesday June 30 2015)
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