Manchester City will be hoping to get their first win of the European group stages when they host AS Roma on Tuesday, knowing that anything other than three points will put their hopes of progressing from the group stage for a second time in two campaigns under serious threat. The Italians took care of business against CSKA Moscow while City lost to German giants Bayern during Matchweek 1, so they visit the Etihad with a lot more confidence and under less pressure to win than Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
City and Roma have never faced each other before; this clash between the two heavyweights will mark the first meeting between the two sides.
Samir Nasri has undergone groin surgery that will rule him out for over a month, while Fernando will not be ready for the midweek encounter. However, Stevan Jovetic is in line to return for Manuel Pellegrini.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia has his own injury problems to deal with; Daniele De Rossi is the latest high-profile casualty at the Stadio Olimpico, joining the likes of Juan Iturbe, Kevin Strootman and Davide Astori on the sidelines.
Manchester City – Yaya Toure
It will be interesting to see if Pellegrini line up with two strikers at home against the Lupi, or takes the more pragmatic decision to flood the midfield with a lone striker up top as he does in most of City’s Champions League games. In either case, the absence of Fernando – who was brought in exactly for these types of games against tricky opposition – will mean the majority of the midfield pressure will have to be soaked up by Yaya Toure and Fernandinho at the heart of the City midfield. He’ll be up against an old ally in Seydou Keita, who he knows from their time together at Barcelona, but he will also be up against a formidable midfield trio of Adem Ljajic, Miralem Pjanic and Francesco Totti; the Ivorian cannot afford to drift too far forward of his central midfield position and isolate Fernandinho and let the creative talents of Pjanic expose the space behind the midfield. He looks to have picked up some of the form that we’re used to seeing from him, with a couple of solid, if unspectacular, performances over the last two games, so his form on Tuesday will have a big say in whether or not City can take all three points from the encounter.
AS Roma – Miralem Pjanic
Of course, Roma themselves will heavily rely on their 24-year old Bosnian midfielder to provide the spark needed to unlock the City defense. Operating in a midfield three alongside Keita and Nainngolan, Pjanic’s ability to initiate counter attacks will be key for Roma going forward; his eye for goal will also provide an outlet for a majority of their attacks. He comes into the game on the back of some great form; he was instrumental in their 2-1 win away at Parma, where he recorded 112 touches of the ball and a 93% passing accuracy in addition to the brilliant free-kick goal that eventually sealed the game for the capital side. Roma seem to have ironed out past weaknesses, especially with a little added steel in midfield, but Miralem Pjanic will be key for the injury-hit Roma hope to take anything from this game in their quest for knockout round qualification.
Projected Starting XIs
Manchester City: 4-2-3-1: Hart – Zabaleta,Kompany,Mangala,Kolarov – Toure,Fernandinho – Navas,Silva,Milner – Dzeko.
AS Roma: 4-3-3: De Sanctis – Maicon, Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cole – Pjanić, Keita, Nainggolan – Ljajić, Totti, Destro
This is a game the Citizens will have to win to keep their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages alive, and they should see of a formidable Roma challenge in front of a home crowd in Manchester.
Manchester City 2-0 AS Roma