Both Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester City will be hoping to reroute the current courses of their 2012 Champions League campaigns when the two squads meet for their Group D match on Wednesday. With zero and one points accrued respectively, each squad is in need of a victory to turn things around.
Ajax will have the advantage of home field in Amsterdam, though City will be the clear favorite. The visiting squad also has a statistic more than three decades in the making on its side: Ajax has not beaten a visiting English team in Amsterdam since 1980.
Expect a hard-fought, scrappy contest on Wednesday, as both sides will view the match as a must-win in order to keep their hopes of advancing out of the group stage alive.
Where: Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: Wednesday, October 24, 2:45 p.m. ET
TV/Live Stream: Fox Soccer Channel
Player to Watch for Ajax: Tobias Sana
The only team in Group D to lose both Champions League matches to this point, the main problem for Ajax is simple—they have hardly been able to score.
The five goals Ajax have allowed is worst in the group as well, but four came in a single match against Real Madrid, which puts up big numbers on just about everyone. The bigger issue is that the team, despite putting up 23 goals in nine games of Eredivisie play (where Ajax has not lost yet this season), has scored just one goal in two Champions League matches.
In order to earn their first points of the season and remove themselves from the Group D cellar, Ajax must find a way to put the ball in the net. Look for 23-year-old midfielder Tobias Sana, who leads Ajax with four goals in Eredivisie play but has managed just one shot and zero goals in each of his club's Champions League matches, to provide some much needed offensive spark for the home team.
Though City, too, remains winless in Champions League play, they battled to a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on October 3. City has also won three straight Premier League matches, allowing just two goals across the three contests. They'll look to keep the improvements coming by notching a win in Amsterdam.
Things could be complicated, however, by numerous injuries to the squad's midfielders. The most notable is certainly that of starter Daniel Silva, who injured his hamstring competing for Spain last week and will not play. City will also be without midfielders Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell, who split time in the team's most recent Champions League match.
Look for James Milner, who is expected to start in place of Silva, to restore order to the field for City. An unused substitute in the team's first two Champions League matches, he will suddenly have a great amount of pressure on him as he fills in for City's usual starters.
Despite being separated by just one point in the current Group D standings, Manchester City is simply a more talented team than Ajax. In Amsterdam on Wednesday, they'll finally play like it.
Manchester City over Ajax, 3-1