Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Tuesday October 23 2012
City arrive in the Netherlands for a Group D Champions League fixture laced with more than a hint of do or die. It's a must win and then some for Mancio's men...
Frank de Boer:
'If we want to survive in Europe we need a result from this match and that's our goal. Against Madrid we played a bad match, they're good opponents but we were well below our level. Our team is learning so let's hope they are quick students. We must have confidence that we can perform much better and if we do that, we can get some points.
'City spend heavily; we don't have money like that so we have to be inventive and creative. We try to use our academy to develop our young players - that's how we have to survive, and I like it that way. I rate City like Dortmund; last season they didn't do very well in Europe and they must have learned from it. If you look at their team they have a lot of players to choose from. They are all fantastic players so whoever they put on, they all have quality. As a fan, I like to watch Agüero, he's fast, and has an all-round game.
'It's always difficult to put your finger on why City aren't performing like they are in the Premier League. Maybe it's a bit like Dortmund last year; they played great in the Bundesliga but didn't do very well in the Champions League. Things can change very quickly in this team because they have so much quality. If we play our game, with the philosophy we have, we can maybe get a good result.'
'This group is very difficult but we have four games. Ajax play fantastic football but they have a young team. It's difficult to play away, and it's clear that we can lose our chances, but we need to do our best.
'It's impossible that when a player sits on the bench he will be happy, but when you play at a top team, we have 15 more top players and you can only put in 11 players. But we play a lot of matches in a year and every player has a chance to play in a season. I speak with them, not every day, but it's important. Last year, Edin and Mario came off the bench in the last game and one scored and the other gave the assist. Twenty years ago maybe City played one match a week, now we play every three days so every player gets a chance.
'We don't have experience as a club but all our players have experience in the Champions League. Maybe as a club we need to get experience in the Champions League, but we have players with that experience.'
Last Run Out Saturday: Heracles 3-3 Ajax (Te Wierik 61, Bruns 80, Pedro 90+1; Rienstra og 10, Schøne 25, Sana 62) Vermeer: Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Moisander, Blind; Schøne (Fischer 84), Poulsen, Eriksen; Sana (De Sa 77), De Jong, Boerrigter (Babel 46)
The 20 year old strings puller is a player City's midfield need to keep tabs on. Turned down the chance to join City two summers ago.
City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Johansen, Richards, Kompany, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kolarov, Clichy, Nastasic, Milner, Nasri, Barry, Y Toure, Evans, Dzeko, Sinclair, Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli.
Last Run Out Saturday: WBA 1-2 City (Long 67; Deko 80 90+2)
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Barry (Deko 79), Y Touré, Nasri; Tévez (Kolarov), Balotelli (Agüero 64)
On fire and growing in confident self belief, here's another opportunity for the big man to reinforce his blossoming reputation as a striker to be feared in Europe. A surefire starter.
15 City players were on international duty last week: Hart, Lescott, Milner, Kolarov, Nastasić, Agüero, Zabaleta, Y Touré, K Touré, Balotelli, Silva, Clichy, Deko, Pantilimon and Kompany.
No competitive matches have been played between the two clubs.
City's John Guidetti scored an on loan hat-trick against Ajax in a 4-2 home victory for Feyenoord on 29 January this year.
Newcomers to the Champions League last season, The Citizens have lost 3 of 4 away games to date.
City's only previous trip to Holland ended in a 1-1 draw at FC Twente in a 1978/79 UEFA Cup 1st round clash.
Already beaten by Dortmund and Real, Ajax are hoping for a first home victory over an English side since 1980, when they beat Nottingham Forest 1-0.
All our yesterdays. Ajax coach Frank de Boer made his international debut in September 1990 in Holland's 1-0 defeat in Palermo against Italy for whom Roberto Mancini appeared as a 55th-minute substitute. Today's Ajax assistant coach Dennis Bergkamp came on as a Dutch sub.
Mancio's Internazionale knocked out Ajax in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League round of 16. Inter came from 2 down to draw 2-2 in Amsterdam before winning 1-0 at the San Siro.
4 long seasons ago in most Villa fans minds, Gareth Barry hit Aston Villa's winner in a 2-1 home success against Ajax in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage. James Milner was also in the Villans side.
Betting: Ajax 4 Draw 5/2 City 8/11
TV Coverage: Sky Sports 2
CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE IN THE VMC FORUM
Svein Oddvar Moen of Norway 33 year old card flourisher reffing since 1996. Debuted in Norwegian top flight in 2004. From the start of 2011 registered as an elite category referee. Shortlisted for 2014 World Cup.
Johnny On The Spot: What a baptism of fire City have had in The Champions League. The likes of Bayern, Dortmund and Real Madrid already taken on and most certainly Ajax must not be under estimated. The club are a polished class act steeped in footballing excellence. They might not have all-time greats on board right now but they are Champions and must be treated as such. I'm banking on The Blues approaching this one professionally buoyed by two excellent league performances and securing three crucial points.
all times East Manchester
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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