UEFA Champions League: AS Roma vs Manchester City Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

AS Roma vs Manchester City | Wednesday 10 December | Stadio Olimpico | 21:45

It is well and truly crunch time for two sides experiencing vastly different swings of form. Pellegrini’s City have managed to build up serious momentum in recent weeks - albeit largely due to the Herculean goal scoring exploits of the injured Sergio Aguero. The Argentine superstar’s unfortunate injury will test the goal scoring depth of the Mancunian side, while AS Roma battled back on the weekend to force a sketchy draw against Sassuolo. Rudi Garcia will know that a home win will guarantee qualification for his side while City could potentially qualify with a score draw. The permutations seem to guarantee a free flowing encounter which should offer plenty of scoring opportunities.

To Win (90mins)
AS Roma 14/10
Draw 23/10
Manchester City 19/10

AS Roma
AS Roma need to quickly banish the memory of that horror home defeat to Bayern if they are to progress to the next round. They have some issues in the full-back department and this could see Ashley Cole come into the side. Di Rossi’s return to fitness has added some much needed bite to what was looking like a suspiciously lightweight midfield, and his battle with Yaya Toure could be one of the more intriguing subplots for the evening.

Gervinho will surely come back into the side for an added injection of pace, which will probably see Iturbe make way up front. Destro’s dynamism should dovetail well with the evergreen solidity of Totti. I can’t see City’s defence containing the attacking talent of Roma indefinitely, but Roma have their own defensive issues that City will be hoping to exploit.

Manchester City
Let’s be frank here - City were more than fortunate to eek out a win over a ten-man Bayern side. Their inability to control possession was disconcerting but should be somewhat alleviated by the return of Yaya Toure. I’m certain - given the gravity of the occasion - that Vincent Kompany will slot in alongside Demichelis this week. His very presence should provide added stability despite lingering fitness concerns. Mangala has been exposed in Europe on various occasions this season.

Silva will likely start on the bench, which should see a diamond featuring Nasri, Milner and Navas playing behind Dzeko. The absence of Maicon would have been noted by Pellegrini as Jesus Navas should terrify the Roma fullbacks. Can Edin Dzeko step up to the plate in the absence of Sergio Aguero? City fans will remember just how influential the big striker was in their surge towards the title last year, but you can’t help but think that Aguero’s absence will vastly alter the course of the match, as it necessitates an entirely different tactical approach that lacks the raw energy that Aguero brings.

VERDICT: Both Teams to Score, Yes 6/10
It is hard to pick a winner here, although I would probably lean towards the home side - but one thing you can guarantee is goals. Both sides have defensive issues and are additionally in desperate need of scoring.

The man knows his football, but even he gets it wrong from time to time. Feel free to share your view below.