Ajax isn’t the only team which has a lot riding on Tuesday evening’s Champions League match. Opponent Manchester City also needs to be successful. Coach Roberto Mancini said the following at Monday night’s press conference: “This is our last chance”.
There’s nothing strange about the comments from Manchester City’s Italian coach, who came close to losing his temper a few times during the press conference. This was when reporters confronted him with ‘historical’ comments in which he had said that Manchester City could win the Champions League. Last Saturday, after their scoreless game against West Ham United, the coach allegedly said that City wouldn’t be able to win Europe’s biggest prize. “We need more experience as a team”, said Mancini at Monday’s press conference. “Not as players, because we’ve played in the Champions League. But we need to improve as a team.”
City only has one point in three games, two fewer than Ajax. So Manchester City absolutely needs to beat Ajax in order to quiet the grumbling in the background. “We probably didn’t play very well in that first match against Ajax”, remembers Mancini. “But we had the chance to lock up the game after the opening goal. If we had scored the 0-2 goal, Ajax wouldn’t have had a chance. When we squandered that goal, Ajax played better. But it was an odd game.”
The coach was full of praise for Ajax. “Whenever I see Ajax, they play fantastic football. They’ve been making it into the Champions League consistently in the past few years, even though their team is young. I saw them play in Dortmund and they didn’t deserve to lose there. And, yes, they’re young. But every Champions League match is tough. Names and salaries don’t mean anything once you start playing a game. Then, it’s eleven against eleven.” And that’s a statement Ajax can hold onto on Tuesday night.