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City test demands that Ajax grow up fast

"Our team is learning so let's hope they are quick students," said AFC Ajax coach Frank de Boer as his side gear up for a crucial Group D encounter with Manchester City FC.

City test demands that Ajax grow up fast
City test demands that Ajax grow up fast ©UEFA.com

Frank de Boer says AFC Ajax must improve and quickly if they are to pick up their first Group D points against Manchester City FC in Amsterdam, with Roberto Mancini eager for his side to use their individual experience to make up for the English champions' lack of UEFA Champions League pedigree.

Coach Frank de Boer
If we want to survive in Europe we need a result from this match and that's our goal. Against Madrid we played a bad match, they're good opponents but we were well below our level. Our team is learning so let's hope they are quick students. We must have confidence that we can perform much better and if we do that, we can get some points.

City spend heavily; we don't have money like that so we have to be inventive and creative. We try to use our academy to develop our young players – that's how we have to survive, and I like it that way. I rate City like Dortmund; last season they didn't do very well in Europe and they must have learned from it. If you look at their team they have a lot of players to choose from. They are all fantastic players so whoever they put on, they all have quality. As a fan, I like to watch [Sergio] Agüero, he's fast, and has an all-round game.

It's always difficult to put your finger on why City aren't performing like they are in the Premier League. Maybe it's a bit like Dortmund last year; they played great in the Bundesliga but didn't do very well in the Champions League. Things can change very quickly in this team because they have so much quality. If we play our game, with the philosophy we have, we can maybe get a good result.

Weekend result
Saturday: Heracles Almelo 3-3 Ajax (Te Wierik 61, Bruns 80, Pedro 90+1; Rienstra og 10, Schøne 25, Sana 62)

Vermeer: Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Moisander, Blind; Schøne (Fischer 84), Poulsen, Eriksen; Sana (De Sa 77), De Jong, Boerrigter (Babel 46).

• Ajax extended their unbeaten Dutch Eredivisie run to 23 games, since a 2-0 loss to FC Utrecht on 5 February.

Team news
Nicolai Boilesen (hamstring), Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (shoulder), Thulani Serero (groin), Davy Klaassen (groin) and Jody Lukoki (knee) are still in the treatment room.

Manager Roberto Mancini

This group is very difficult but we have four games. Ajax play fantastic football but they have a young team. It's difficult to play away, and it's clear that we can lose our chances [of qualifying], but we need to do our best.

It's impossible that when a player sits on the bench he will be happy, but when you play at a top team, we have 15 more top players and you can only put in 11 players. But we play a lot of matches in a year and every player has a chance to play in a season. I speak with them, not every day, but it's important. Last year, Edin [Džeko] and Mario [Balotelli] came off the bench in the last game and one scored and the other gave the assist. Twenty years ago maybe we played one match a week, now we play every three days so every player gets a chance.

We don't have experience as a club but all our players have experience in the Champions League. Maybe as a club we need to get experience in the Champions League, but we have players with that experience.

Weekend result
Saturday: West Bromwich Albion FC 1-2 City (Long 67; Džeko 80 90+2)

Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Barry (Džeko 79), Yaya, Nasri; Tévez (Kolarov), Balotelli (Agüero 64).

•  Despite the 23rd-minute dismissal of James Milner, City came from behind to win and stay within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea FC.

Team news
David Silva misses out with a hamstring injury sustained on international duty.

Match fact
Ajax are seeking a first home victory over English opposition since 1980. City's only previous trip to the Netherlands yielded a 1-1 draw at FC Twente in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup first round.

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