Know Manchester City's rivals in Champions League Group D

Manchester City who were seeded in Pot 2 have been drawn in Group D in the Champions League. takes a look at their opponents and what they can expect from them...
By Kishen Patel

Real Madrid CF

Performance in last year's tournament: Lost in the semifinal against Bayern Munich

How they qualified this year: Winners of La Liga to earn automatic qualification

The Manager

Jose Mourinho last won the Champions League with Inter Milan by beating Bayern 2-0 at the Bernabeu. The ‘Special One’ has an excellent record of trophies in four different European leagues and has won everything there was to win in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. He’s currently in quest for his third Champions League medal and Madrid’s Tenth. Mourinho is one of the most famous non playing people associated with football and is highly regarded as well. He may have his outbursts and antics but he is the “Only One” at the moment.

Formation and Tactics


Real Madrid use the 4-2-3-1 system like many other teams. Mourinho uses either Higuain or Benzema up front with a midfield of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria. Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso form the midfield fulcrum and act as a link with the defense. Alonso thrives in his deep lying playmaker role as almost all attacks are initiated from his precise passing. Counter attacking is one of Madrid’s strengths and they put up a fair threat from set pieces as well with the likes of Pepe, Ramos and Ronaldo all dangerous in the air. With Kaka, Modric and Essien on the bench, Madrid have enough of players to choose for their midfield.


Madrid are always favorites to win the Champions League. They are chasing their Tenth triumph and will leave no stone unturned in trying to do so. With Mourinho at helm, Madrid can go all the way this year after consecutive semifinal exits in the previous two seasons. Definitely the team to beat in this group but they have to be vary of the threat posed by City and Dortmund. Any slip can/will prove costly.

  Man to Watch - Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is by far the most dangerous player at Madrid. The Portuguese is a well oiled machine and always gives his all on the pitch. Be it from open play, corners, set pieces or penalties; Ronaldo is a threat from any distance and can change the game by scoring at important intervals. The Galacticos will need their most influential player in top form if they are to brush aside their fellow champion opponents.

Borussia Dortmund

Performance in last year's tournament: Finished fourth in the group, eliminated.

How they qualified this year: Winners of the Bundesliga and earned automatic qualification.

The Manager

Jurgen Klopp started his managerial career at Mainz 05 where he remained at the helm for seven years. He guided the Mainz team to their first ever Bundesliga experience but eventually got relegated during the 2006-07 season. He was approached by Dortmund in 2008 and since then he has guided them to DFB Super Cup, consecutive Bundesliga titles and the Pokal in 2011-12. He was named as the German Manager of the Year on two occasions. He is also credited for Dortmund’s first ever domestic double last season.
Formation and Tactics


Dortmund also use the 4-2-3-1 system with Lewandowski  playing as a lone striker and Reus playing in the hole behind him. Klopp uses Groskreutz and Blaszczykowski as wingers with Gotze usually coming on as a substitute.. The central pair of Kehl and Gundogan sit deep and initiate play especially the latter who can pick precise passes or change flanks with ease. Sven Bender seems to have recovered from an injury and should be available for selection. Full backs are crucial to BVB’s style of play as they try and add an extra dimension to their flanks and launch quick counter attacks. Dortmund also sometimes sit deep, track each player and try to suppress their passing. With the versatility of Gotze, Reus, Groskreutz and Blaszczykowski, Klopp has the advantage of mixing things in midfield.


They are surely a team to watch out for as they can upset any other side in the group. With Madrid and City for company, life will be tough for Dortmund but they can surprise the big two and book a place in the next round. Though not much is expected from them in Europe, they have the potential to reach the quarterfinals and then ride their luck a little.

  Man to Watch - Marco Reus

Marco Reus has been a sensation in Germany during the 2011-12 season. The 23 year old can function on the flanks as well as in the hole and was snapped up by Dortmund after the departure of Kagawa. Though Klopp has been reluctant to use Gotze and Reus at the same time, he could do so in the future in order to add extra creativity to his side.

Ajax Amsterdam

Performance in last year's tournament: They were eliminated after finishing fourth in Group D.

How they qualified this year: Won the Eredivisie and earned automatic qualification
The Manager

Appointed as manager of Ajax on 6 December 2010, Frank De Boer is in his first managerial job. The vastly experienced Dutch defender has already won the Champions League and the UEFA Cup with Ajax as a player. Since his appointment as manager, he has won two consecutive league titles with Ajax and restored them as Eredivisie champions. De Boer has already faced Mourinho in the Champions League group stage last season with the latter triumphing on both occasions.
Formation and Tactics


Ajax have improvised with the 4-3-3 formation under De Boer. Poulsen functions as a holding midfielder and allows the creative duo of Schone and Eriksen to dictate play. Boerrigter and Sana can play on the flanks and allow captain Siem de Jong to play as a centre forward. With no big name signings this summer, coach De Boer has kept his faith on home grown talent.

The absence of Jan Vertonghen in the centre-back position might come back to hurt Ajax in the Champions League. However the addition of Ryan Babel and Christian Poulsen will come in handy for the Dutch champions as the duo are seasoned campaigners.


Ajax finished third in their group last season and had to settle for the Europa League spot. The four time winners aren’t contenders for the big prize but they do have the potential to reach the next round. With Madrid, City and Dortmund being formidable opponents, the going will be tough for the Dutch champions.

  Man to Watch - Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen has quickly become an influential member for the Ajax first team. The Danish playmaker’s rise has been credited to his consistency and an ability to set up goals. Eriksen is crafty from dead ball situations and has the knack to assist teammates to score. He must perform well if Ajax are to perfom well.

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