Having failed to take a single point from games against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, Ajax hope to fare at least a bit better against Manchester City, a team that need a win at Amsterdam ArenA in order to realize their European hopes.
Ajax have suffered a major downtrend in fortunes over the last few years, mostly because of the lack of talent coming through the youth ranks. Departure of key players at the end of the season was never too big a problem for the Dutch giants, but it appears that this season things have changed. With Ryan Babel and Nikolas Moisander the only notable signings and five or six first team regulars leaving, the Amsterdammers have largely struggled to hit the ground running. Ajax experienced problems even on domestic stage, having won just 4 of 9 league games, so it was hardly surprising to see them lose both Champions League clashes. With the obvious lack of quality and experience to match the best sides in Europe, Ajax face a mountain to climb against Manchester City.
English Premier League winners Manchester City waited until the last moment to do most of their summer shopping, with Douglas Maicon, Matija Nastasic, Javi Garcia and Scott Sinclair following Jack Rodwell. On top of that, they opted to keep hold of all star players, meaning the squad now have a much greater strength in depth. It is precisely the presence of quality players on the bench that saved City several times this season, with Edin Dzeko making the biggest impact by coming off the bench to score several very important goals. This quality should keep the Citizens in good stead for the match in Amsterdam despite the fact that a number of players is out of contention. Given the fact that City appear to be raising their form and taking into account a plethora of individual talent at Roberto Mancini’s disposal, I am tempted to back away win with big stakes.