Tune in at 2:45 PM ET as Ajax takes on Manchester City. Jack Goodson will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
Preamble: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to The Score's ongoing coverage of the UEFA Champions League. Today we find out if Manchester City are actually interested in advancing in this competition, as the reigning Premier League champions travel to the Netherlands to face Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena.
City have accumulated just one point through two Group D games. The first of those matches was a 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid (six points in the group) thanks to a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal. The second, a fortunate 1-1 draw with a Borussia Dortmund (four points) side that dominated City in Manchester. They have Joe Hart to thank for that result.
So, as it stands at the moment, City are in third - only ahead of pointless Ajax. A win here would be a massive jolt to the campaign, while anything less would pile even more pressure onto Roberto Mancini. City should win, but you never know in the Champions League - particularly with City struggling to keep clean sheets thus far this season.
Vermeer; Van Rhijn, Aldenweireld, Moisander, Blind; Schone, Poulsen, Eriksen; Sana, De Jong, Twitter's Ryan Babel. Bench: Cillessen, Enoh, Sulemani, Boerrigter, Veltman, Dijks, Fischer.
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Touré, Barry, Nasri; Aguero, Dzeko. Bench: Pantilimon, Sinclair, Kolarov, Tevez, Nastasic, Balotelli, Evans.
Welcome @scfc08erc, and thanks for the excellent comment.
What's Mancini said about his team for tonight? Well: "We had a players who spent a lot of energy on Saturday because we played for 70 minutes with one player down so I need fresh players for tonight." Sounds sensible enough. Super sub Edin Dzeko is the man of the hour after scoring twice after being introduced at West Brom to haul City back from a 1-0 deficit to win at The Hawthorns despite being a man down for a majority of the contest. He starts tonight.
That other fixture: We should probably keep one eye on Germany, where Borussia Dortmund is hosting Real Madrid in today's other Group D fixture. Yeah, that's going to be some match.
1min: And we're off at the Amsterdam Arena. City, who get us underway moving left to right in dark blue, have lost three or four away fixtures in this competitions dating to last season.
1min: Ajax have started this match on the sprint. They pushed forward quickly from the kickoff after winning possession, and now, in their second move forward, have won the match's first corner kick.
2min: Eriksen, who appears to have taken up a more advanced role than expected, delivers the corner but Barry is in a good position at the near post to clear.
4min: City are applying some excellent pressure from the front to Ajax, who are patient in their buildup as they knock it around the back four.
5min: It's been all Ajax through the opening five minutes. De Jong loops a first-time shot well over the crossbar from 20 yards - following a lay back from Babel - following a buildup that must've included at least 20 passes.
6min: The hosts look extremely sharp. Fullback Van Rhijn arrives late on the right side, but his crossing pass is overhit and fails to find anyone in the penalty area.
9min: So close! Eriksen latches onto a knock down from Schone just outside the penalty area. The young prospect did well to control, but his shot, carrying plenty of pace, skewed a couple of yards wide of Joe Hart's left post.
11min: City haven't offered much of anything in terms of an attacking threat thus far. The visitors looks overly hesitant. Well, not exactly hesitant but I'd say overly patient.
12min: On replay, Eriksen's volley on nine minutes was even closer than I first thought. Hart wasn't going to get to that effort had it been on target.
13min: City are all over the place at the back. Ajax nearly carve through the visitors with lethal efficiency, only for Schone's ball toward Babel, who was in miles of space breaking down the left-inside channel, lacking sufficient weight. That allowed Lescott to recover and clear the danger just as Babel was preparing to pounce.
15min: Ajax just want this much more than City do at the moment.
16min: Even more worry for City, as Toure has picked up a knock in a challenge with Blind. The Ajax max followed through with his right foot, catching Toure on the left shin/ankle. That didn't look particularly fun at all.
18min: Toure has finally lumbered back onto the pitch, but he's not moving well at all.
19min: Though the game has slowed since Ajax's initial thrust, the hosts still look fluid and confident when in possession. Meanwhile, Clichy clips Van Rhijn from behind to give away another free kick.
20min: De Jong stretches to get his head to a Van Rhijn crossing pass from the left, but the Ajax captain was never going to be able to direct the header onto target. Still, it's yet more threat from the Dutch side.
21min: And more from the hosts! Eriksen produces a sublime feint and silky touch to ghost past Barry just outside the box. The Dane then whipped a low shot just wide of the far post with Hart at full stretch. Just lovely play from the young schemer.
GOAL, 22min - Ajax 0-1 Manchester City: Isn't this just like football?
22min: Ajax have been rampant, but found themselves trailing to a Samir Nasri goal. Richards set the move in motion - City's first real attacking move of the night - with a lovely chipped ball for Milner, who gathered pace toward goal before laying off to his left for Nasri. The Frenchman did the rest, curling a lovely shot around Vermeer at his far post.
23min: City have the grit in their teeth now. Aguero pops up on the left of the box, and sees his shot blocked behind for a corner kick.
25min: City have been spurred on by Nasri's opener. They are coming forward in a much more aggressive nature now.
28min: The game has slowed significantly over the past couple of minutes. That is until City decide to switch gears and burst into the attacking third through Aguero and Nasri. Aguero provided the final touch, a chipped cross from the left that is dealt with pretty comfortably.
29min: Richards surges forward with another powerful run down the right side. He and Toure cannot figure out who should take on the ball after it squirted into space, but Richards decides to keep hold of it and then lashed a searing drive toward goal that Vermeer bats down.
29min: Our first yellow card of the night is issued to Blind for a cynical block off of Dzeko, who was advancing down the right.
33min: Ajax continue to monopolize possession without really looking likely to fashion a clear goal-scoring chance. Van Rhijn only supports my point with this chance, a wayward curling shot from the right of the box with better options to his left side.
36min: Ajax work the ball from the left, back toward their goalkeeper and then up the right side through Van Rhijn and Sana. Eriksen is the final piece involved, and his move from the right inside is broken up by Barry and Toure. Ajax simply can't find a way to carve out a really good chance.
38min: Ajax currently have about 61 percent of the possession. Another sustained buildup leads to a free kick, which does nothing at all to threaten City. Schone was the culprit, receiving a short pass from the deadball and then curling a wasteful ball right into the hands of Hart.
40min: In the other Group D match, Dortmund have taken a 1-0 lead over Real Madrid through Robert Lewandowski. Wait a tick, Cristiano Ronaldo literally just equalized for Madrid. So it's 1-1 in Dortmund.
43min: Babel has had enough of these long buildups. The former Liverpool player picked up the ball about 30 yards from goal and, with no one ahead of him, lashed a one-hopper toward goal that Hart saved easily.
44min: Balotelli is indeed on the bench. For complete starting lineups and benches, scroll down to the beginning of the liveblog.