23rd October 2012
Ajax will need to show a massive improvement if they are to remain in contention to progress from the group of death, with a win over Manchester City a must following the opening defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. The Citizens are in a slightly better position after the 1-1 draw with BVB, and they, too, have no choice but to try and win this game.
Boasting arguably the best youth academy in world football, Ajax would manage to cope after selling their key players and replacing them with talented youngsters in the past, but it appears the current crop of young footballers is not yet ready to compensate for the departures of Jan Vertonghen, Gregory van der Wiel, Theo Janssen and few others. While also struggling on domestic stage, the Amsterdammers are finding it increasingly difficult to match some of Europe’s top sides in the group of death, with the 4-1 home defeat to Real Madrid showing a genuine gap in quality between the two sides. Considering that Ajax are now set to face reigning Premier League champions and taking into account their three-match winless run, one cannot expect Frank de Boer’s side to get something from this game. The absence of Nicolai Boilesen, Davy Klaassen, Thulani Serero and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is going to further damage team’s chances of avoiding defeat at Amsterdam ArenA.
Having clearly raised the bar with their showings last season, Manchester City were always going to face a difficult task this term, but the Citizens are doing well to battle the pressure of expectations. While it is clear Roberto Mancini’s side have yet to find their top form, team’s results have been pretty impressive this term, which shows the Citizens have started to grind out results, which is a true feature of great sides. It certainly helps when you have so many world-class players in the starting line-up, as well as on the bench, with 2-1 victory over West Brom the perfect proof. Despite being a man down and a goal down at Hawthorns, City somehow managed to record a valuable victory at the weekend, with Edin Dzeko coming off the bench to score a brace in the final ten minutes. The victory will certainly do wonders for the players’ confidence before a very important match against Ajax, which is do or die when it comes to team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages. Roberto Mancini will have to make do without David Silva and Vincent Kompany, while Maicon, Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell are also out.
Matches against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid showed Ajax lack the quality and experience to match Europe’s top clubs and with a number of players missing, the Amsterdammers are unlikely to fare any better against Manchester City. Roberto Mancini’s side are slowly raising their form and they look a good bet to win at Amsterdam ArenA.
Verdict: Away win Manchester City (2)
Best Odds: 3/4
Bookmaker: Paddy Power