ONLY JOY OF SIX WILL DO FOR DZEKO
AJAX v MANCHESTER CITY Tonight, 7.45pm – Sky Sports 2
EDIN DZEKO admits Man City have to nab six points against Ajax to stand a chance of progressing in the Champions League.
Roberto Mancini’s men are playing catch-up once again after collecting just one point from their opening two group games.
They led twice at Real Madrid, only to suffer heartbreak by conceding two late goals in a 3-2 defeat in the Bernabeu.
And the Premier League champions also needed a last-gasp penalty from Mario Balotelli to rescue a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund after being battered by the Germans.
Now City head to Amsterdam to face a team that has lost both group matches, knowing they have to win to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout phase alive.
Mancini admits his side needs at least NINE more points to stand a chance of getting out of the group.
That means defeating Real Madrid at the Etihad or snatching three points from their trip to Dortmund in the final game.
Bosnian star Dzeko, 26, who bagged two late goals to earn a 2-1 win at West Brom at the weekend, insists maximum points against Ajax is a must.
“It is difficult, I think we didn’t start very well again this year as we only have one point and I think this game will be crucial,” said Dzeko.
“If we win, then we play against them again at home and maybe if we get six points it will be much better for us.
“I think it’s an important game. We have to win if we still want to be in the Champions League.”
Mancini has revealed he fears a repeat of last season’s agonising exit at the group stage.
City managed to collect 10 points against Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal – but it was still not enough.
Mancini thinks this season’s draw is EVEN harder than last term as City need to keep reaching the Champions League to boost their seeding.
But even though Ajax have lost their two games, Mancini insists Frank de Boer’s men will not be a soft touch.
He said: “Like when we started this group, it is important to win the next game.
“I don’t think it will be easy because Dortmund only beat Ajax in the last two minutes and after 80 minutes Real Madrid were only 2-1 up and then they scored two late goals.
“The same situation as last year could happen and it depends how our next game against Ajax goes.
“I think that we played against two strong teams, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
“But we can’t think it will be easy against Ajax because Ajax play in the Champions League every year and for us it’s the second year.
“Also we have players of experience, but to win in Amsterdam isn’t easy.”
EDIN FOR A DOUBLE: Dzeko wants back-toback wins against Ajax
THE STRAIN: Mancini
fears another early exit