Ajax v Man City preview
Both sides are looking for their first win as the Dutch and English champions face each other at the Amsterdam Arena.
By Tim Oscroft
Last Updated: 24/10/12 11:58am
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.
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.