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  • Manchester City v Ajax, Champions League

Win-at-all-costs time for Man City in Europe

ESPN staff
November 6, 2012
Roberto Mancini angry at questions over his future

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has plenty of injury concerns ahead of Tuesday's must-win Champions League match against Ajax at the Etihad Stadium.

City have collected one point from their opening three games in Group D and are in danger of early elimination for a second successive season.

Mancini is well aware his team must beat Ajax to retain any hope of reaching the knockout stages but the task is made even harder by a host of injuries. Joleon Lescott and James Milner are the latest additions to a casualty list that already includes David Silva, Maicon, Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards.

Mancini said: "We have this problem with some important players injured but when you have this problem, it is a time that all the players can put more on the pitch. Tomorrow is the last chance for us.''

Mancini has reiterated his belief that City's continuing European struggles should be put in the context of the club's relative inexperience on the stage. It is only City's second season in the Champions League and, as with last year, they have a particularly tough group with Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid all domestic champions.

Mancini said: "In the Champions League there are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Manchester United that have more experience than us.

"We play Champions League for the second year, probably we need to work more for this. This time we again took a difficult group and you need to work hard. When you are in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax, you can go out. It is possible.''

Opposite number Frank de Boer, who saw his side triumph over Mancini's outfit 3-1 at the Amsterdam ArenA a fortnight ago, knows a win will go a long way to taking them into the knockout rounds.

"We want to be in the Champions League after the winter break as well,'' he said. "All the teams in this group do, and of course they want to have the nine points out of the three coming matches.

"We will give it a go to try to get a result here. Some of these teams will lose points and we will know who at the end of the match.''

City might need to throw caution to the wind but De Boer has no intention of telling his side to sit back to soak up pressure. The former Holland defender said: "We are not going to throw it open but it is not our way to play defensively. We want to show the way we play at Ajax, whether it is at home or away.''

Manchester City player to watch: Mancini's men will be desperate to get an early goal to settle their home fans, but in every European outing this season they have left themselves exposed at the other end. Joe Hart, as he was against Borussia Dortmund, may be the difference between a positive result and a defeat.

Ajax player to watch: Christian Eriksen gets plenty of attention but Siem de Jong's movement and ability to finish will keep City's defence busy when Ajax gain possession of the ball. City dare not fall behind to an Ajax side who love to exploit spaces.

Betting: A sheer necessity to win will surely drag City over the line on Tuesday, but they may have to score more than once to do it. Take a 2-1 win at 15/2 with bet365.

Prediction: 2-1

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