Mancini has no illusions over Ajax task

23 October 2012 08:18

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini knows his team must toughen up to keep their Champions League quest alive.

City have made another disappointing start in the competition having collected just one point from their opening two matches in Group D. Alarmingly, according to UEFA statistics, they have allowed 50 attempts on their own goal during their opening loss at Real Madrid and in their draw against Borussia Dortmund last time out.

Ahead of the back-to-back games against Ajax, Mancini said: "It is better that we don't concede a lot of shots, but we played against Madrid in Madrid, so it is difficult not to concede chances. We had a bad game against Dortmund, but it is important we don't give away so many chances to score."

He added: "This group is very difficult. We haven't started very well, tomorrow will be a difficult game.

"People think it will be easy, but Ajax have a good young team and will play well. It is more difficult away from home. We can't think before the game about not winning. We have to think about winning this game."

City found themselves in a similar situation 12 months ago after managing just one draw in games against Bayern Munich and Napoli. They went on to beat Villarreal twice in succession but still failed to progress from the group stage despite ending it with 10 points.

City will have to achieve their aims in Holland without playmaker David Silva, who remains out with a hamstring injury and has not travelled. Defender Maicon and midfielders Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia are also missing.

Those that did make the trip trained at the Amsterdam Arena on the eve of the match. That represented a break from Mancini's usual European routine as the manager usually prefers to train in Manchester in the morning before travelling.

After previous disappointments, it was suggested to Mancini he might be trying something different but he insisted it was nothing significant.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: "Some players wanted to see the stadium because it is fantastic and they wanted to train here. Only this."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
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