On Wednesday night Manchester City will take part in the biggest match of their season so far against AS Roma in the Stadio Olimpico. It’s an almost all or nothing clash for Pellegrini’s men, with 3 teams sat on 5 points heading into the final fixtures of the group stage there’s everything to play for. After Roma managed to grab a point in Manchester they will be hoping to go one better and put their English rivals to the sword on Wednesday so they can advance to the knock out rounds of the Champions League for the first time since the 2010/11 campaign, when they were eliminated by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16. It’s no secret that Manchester City’s wealthy Abu Dhabi owners want Champions League success and an exit tonight would seriously put Manuel Pellegrini’s place at the club in jeopardy. Arguably the match of gameweek 6 will take place at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday and the blue half of Manchester will be hoping for their squad to step up to the challenge especially with many of their usual key men missing the tie through either suspension or injury. Man City have been below par in the Champion’s League so far, but their Italian rivals have been unable to take advantage of their slip ups and leave themselves in a precarious position as well. It’s got all the ingredients for a special night in Rome and with what is at stake on Wednesday it’s would be no surprise if we had a classic on our hands.
AS Roma come into the clash off the back of their 2-2 draw with Sassuolo. For that game though the decision was taken to rest several key men for the match with City. Gervinho, Totti and Ashley Cole were all able to rest themselves for the match in hope that they will be ready and firing for the English side’s arrival. They were also able to welcome back Kevin Strootman for the first time since his knee surgery. Whether Strootman will start against City after such a long layoff is unclear but his presence back in the squad will be a huge lift to the Italians and he could play some part in the game. With a near fully fit side available to him for the visit of Manchester City Rudi Garcia could be confident of getting the result needed to secure his sides safe passage to the Knockout Round.
As if the pressure on Manchester City wasn’t already massive, they will now have to go into the clash with Roma missing a few of their key players. Sergio Aguero’s injury on Saturday means that there will be no repeat of his heroics from the Bayern game that kept City’s European dream alive. As if missing their best player so far this season wasn’t enough they will also be without Yaya Toure at the heart of their midfield. The big man from the Ivory Coast is still serving his suspension. Maybe most importantly they will be without their captain Vincent Kompany. A night like this, with what is at stake is exactly the type of match you need the leader of your team. Kompany’s absence could be sorely felt as he won’t be to push the team through what should be an epic battle against Totti and his colleagues.
- Roma have scored atleast 2 goals in every home game they’ve played so far this season
- Roma have won their last 3 home games against Premier League opposition
- Man City haven’t won a game in Italy. Their record is 2 draws and 2 defeats
- City’s most recent victory, home or away, against an Italian team was the 3-0 triumph against AC Milan in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup third round
- In 2 seasons with Arsenal Gervinho never beat Man City in 3 attempts
- As a Newcastle United player Yanga-Mbiwa lost all 3 times he played against Man City
AS Roma: Gervinho
Anyone remember Gervinho as a key player in his Arsenal days? How things have changed. The Ivorian winger has looked a new man since his move to the Italian capital, playing a major part in Rudi Garcia’s side and their journey back to prominence in the Serie A. On Wednesday night he has a chance to help his side into the Champions League Knockout Round for the first time since 2010/11. The winger is a constant threat with his pace down the left flank and he will be a player looking to help Roma establish an attacking tempo against their English visitors. With 3 goals and 1 assist in their Champions League campaign so far his contribution is clear. Roma will be hoping for more of the same from Gervinho if they are to progress. Garcia took the decision to rest the winger at the weekend for their game against Sassuolo, so Gervinho will be fresh to put Man City’s defence on the back foot. With key players missing for Man City and after a promising 1-1 draw in Manchester, Roma will feel a victory is there for the taking. It will come down to if the Roma side, fans have been accustomed to in the Serie A this year, turn up or the side that has been on the end of two humbling results by Bayern Munich. Either way Gervinho is one of those key men and should he perform to the best of his ability on Wednesday Man City’s defence could be on the back foot and in danger of another early Champions League exit.
Manchester City: James Milner
With Aguero, Toure and Kompany all set to miss the Roma match City will need to look for another member of their star studded squad to step up to the mark. David Silva will be included in the squad for the match, but after just returning from an injury lay off the quality of performce he’s usually known for isn’t guaranteed. Enter James Milner. Milner is a name that always seems mismatched when placed next to rest of the superstars on City’s team sheet, however he has more than earned his spot in this team. It was James Milner who last season put in arguably his best performance in a City shirt when he was needed most against Bayern Munich and the fans will be looking for such a performance again against Roma. A tireless worker who is not short of technical ability, Milner is the exact player City need for an away day like this. His energy can be infectious and without captain Kompany to set the tone for his comrades it could Milner who does. You are guaranteed effort from the England midfielder and that’s what City are going to need if they are to prolong their Champions League campaign, an effort from all corners of the pitch and it could very well be James Milner who leads by example and puts the rest of his team mates on the right footing for a historic victory in Rome
City can’t afford to sit back and look for an away draw against Roma. With the visitors having to go for the game and Roma a team not likely to hold back either it could be a very attacking, even high scoring affair. With the player’s missing that City have it’s easy to think they will struggle but that isn’t fair on the other members of their squad who are of immense quality. However, Roma’s home form is very impressive and City’s away form in Europe isn’t exactly startling. If this game was at the Etihad I’d be able to confidently back City to do the business and progress. But, with how bad they have been in Europe this year, apart from the win against Bayern which is owed in large part to Aguero who won’t be playing, it may be Roma’s night. Playing against a team who hasn’t failed to score at least 2 goals in any home game this season without your first choice centre back and captain is no easy task. I can see Roma getting the win over City that they want but it will not be a simple victory, there will be goals for both sides in this game. I personally expect this to be a great advert for the Champions League and the quality of team that compete in it