5th November 2012
Disappointing defeat at Amsterdam ArenA was a major blow to City’s qualifying hopes, but the Etihad outfit still have enough time to get back into contention for a place in the knockout stages. Ajax will be hoping to repeat the performance from the first match between the two sides and remain in contention for the big prize.
Even if Manchester City had been placed into the Champions League group of death for the second time running, nobody could predict that the Citizens would be sitting at rock bottom midway through the group stage, with just one point to their tally. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Roberto Mancini’s side were unlucky not to get more points from first three games despite taking the lead against both Real Madrid and Ajax, when they were in all honesty completely outplayed by all three opponents in group stage. It is more than evident that City have yet to learn how to utilize their strengths in Europe, especially on the travels, although this is a perfect opportunity for the Etihad outfit to record their first European victory this season. Once again, Roberto Mancini faces a real selection headache, with Micah Richards, Douglas Maicon, David Silva and Jack Rodwell all sidelined through injury. On the other hand, James Milner and Joleon Lescott are both doubtful having missed the goalless draw with West Ham.
Having been placed in the same group as Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga champions, Ajax really had their work cut out for them in the Champions League group stages. The Amsterdammers looked unable to match their more illustrious opponents in opening defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, but the Manchester City game changed everything. Frank de Boer’s side were not afraid to attack their opponents from the off and such an approach produced excellent results as Ajax came from a goal down to record a thoroughly deserved 3-1 victory. The Dutch giants have since suffered a small dip in form, with 2-0 home defeat to Vitesse hardly a perfect introduction into the match at Etihad Stadium. Frank de Boer will have Niklas Moisander back from domestic suspension, but Nicolai Boilesen, Miralem Sulejmani, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Jody Lukoki and Thulani Serero all miss out.
Manchester City are usually pretty convincing at their Etihad Stadium and Roberto Mancini’s side have no choice but to go all guns blazing at their opponents. Such an approach will leave Ajax a lot of space to exploit on the break, which is why I recommend backing both teams to score.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 3/4