Forza Pellegrini – AS Roma v Man City

Manchester City know what they have to do if they are to perform their own version of the Great Escape, and progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Despite some illogical mathematically challenged elements of the anti-City media claiming it’s a ‘must win’ game, Manuel Pellegrini’s men know that a score draw will see them through, provided CSKA Moscow lose in Munich.

Italian Job - MP and his men want to 'blow the bloody doors off' the entry to the Champions League knockout stages. Courtesy@MCFC

Italian Job – MP and his men want to ‘blow the bloody doors off’ the entry to the Champions League knockout stages. Courtesy@MCFC

City are in the uncomfortable position of not controlling their own destiny but, given their dire European performances prior to the thrilling win over Bayern, they should be thankful they’re still in with a whisper, let alone a shout.

Rest assured, the decibels will ramp up to a roar if Rome falls to the Mancunian hordes and Moscow wither on the German front.

In the Italian capital – the Eternal City – hope is never ending that, despite the loss of the talismanic Aguero and the suspended Yaya Toure, there’s still enough firepower, experience and collective cool, to see them emerge ‘victorious’ from the‘Colosseum-esque’ Stadio Olimpico.

Fit for purpose - City's squad - minus Sergio and Yaya - prepare for Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Fit for purpose – City’s squad – minus Sergio and Yaya – prepare for Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

A returning quartet of David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Stevan Jovetic and Fernandinho plus the now available again Edin Dzeko and Aleksander Kolarov, give Pellegrini more options than seemed likely a few days ago.

Merlin the Spanish wizard, may be a tad rusty after missing the last eight games, but he is more than capable of sprinkling some magic dust on City’s creative play.

City will be going for the win – it’s not in Pellegrini’s DNA to play for the draw – but at least he has options.

It’s nice to have choice, just as long as it doesn’t lead to tactical confusion and indecision on the field. Kompany’s return should ensure focus and a purposeful performance.

Belief - Modern day City legend Zaba believes the Sky Blue gladiators can triumph in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Belief – Modern day City legend Zaba believes the Sky Blue gladiators can triumph in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Make no mistake City are more than capable of achieving the desired outcome, albeit they’ll be facing two of Roma’s stars who were missing from the 1-1 draw at the Etihad back in September.

Daniele de Rossi who, for something like three transfer windows, seemed on the verge of joining Roberto Mancini’s City, will be back to marshal his legion of men.

They number another combative player, often associated with a move to Manchester, Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman, coveted by his countryman Louis Van Guttural, who wants to add him to his overpriced Gaalacticos.

Roman Commander - Daniele De Rossi is a formidable opponent.

Roman Commander – Daniele De Rossi is a formidable opponent.

Ironically, if City did prevail it could expedite Strootman’s departure to the Swamp, adding another splash of orange arrogance to Manure, a club clearly taking the pith with talk of the Trafford Troglodytes winning the Premier League!

Ashley Cole could be due another duel with ex-Chelsea team mate Super Frankie Lampard, whereas dangerous pensioner, Francesco Totti cannot be underrated, especially after scoring against City in the initial Group E tie.

Will Super Frank taste more Champions League success in a lighter shade of blue? Courtesy@MCFC

Will Super Frank taste more Champions League success in a lighter shade of blue? Courtesy@MCFC

The biggest potential influencing factor for the Romans comes in the shape of midfielders Miralem Pjanic, and the unlikely sounding Belgian, Radja Nainggolan.

Both impressed against City at the Etihad, particularly Bosnian, Pjanic.

The Sky Blues will need to have an indefatigable work ethic and a genuine belief in their own abilities. Silva, inevitably, will not be match fit and will therefore benefit from ‘runners’ around him.

James Milner fits the bill perfectly and can be easily accommodated if, as expected, Pellegrini opts for one up front in a 4-5-1 line up.

Serie A tried & tested -a trip to Rome will be familiar to Stevan Jovetic from his days with Fiorentina. Courtesy@MCFC

Serie A tried & tested -a trip to Rome will be familiar to Stevan Jovetic from his days with Fiorentina. Courtesy@MCFC

Who takes over from Sergio in a lone striker role – Dzeko or Jovetic?

City have to score, but it’s not as if they need an avalanche of goals. They need to pack the midfield and guard against Roma’s raking counter attacks.

Fernando needs to step up and afford protection to City’s backline. Renowned for his ball winning skills and tackling, he’s often far too easily dispossessed and prone to being pedestrian on the ball.

His reputation and nickname of ‘The Octopus’ was built on stellar FC Porto appearances in European competition, now would be a great time to do likewise for his new employers.

Step up to the plate - New signing Fernando needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

Step up to the plate – New signing Fernando needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

Fernandinho can provide another midfield engine and an in-form Nasri, can lighten the burden of expectation on Silva.

Champions League winner, Lampard could be a timely replacement from the bench if City need to replace a flagging Silva, chase the match or simply hang on to an advantage and see out the game

Zabaleta should get the nod over Sagna, whereas Clichy has earned his right to stay at left back following a run of excellent showings.

Spanish steps - Silva nearly won the home game with Roma in added time. Courtesy@MCFC

Spanish steps – Silva nearly won the home game with Roma in added time. Courtesy@MCFC

If Eliaquim Mangala is to make a meaningful contribution to City’s trophy hunt he needs to curb his rush to be rash in tackles and challenges.

Clearly a tremendous prospect, he has to stay on the pitch and ensure he isn’t sidelined with suspensions.

Simply the best - City's Football Academy has been acclaimed as the best on the planet. Courtesy@MCFC

Simply the best – City’s Football Academy has been acclaimed as the best on the planet. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini needs to decide if he can trust him in the Roman cauldron, ahead of the composure and experience of Martin Demichelis. It has to be a night for calm heads and clear thinking!

In a week when City have set down a supreme marker for the future with the official opening of the superb £200m City Football Academy, it’s the here and now on which they will be judged.

Wish you were here - City would love to have had Sergio in their ranks in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Wish you were here – City would love to have had Sergio in their ranks in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

The loss of Aguero has left them wounded, but not fatally so, and a last ditch scramble out of Group E as runner up would go a long way to exorcizing City’s European demons.

1-1, 2-2, 3-3 – any score draw in Rome – and a version of Deutschland Uber Alles in Munich will be City’s ticket to ride. It will also re-define ‘must win’ in the vocabulary of the journalists who love to see City fail.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

 

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8 Comments

  1. December 9, 2014  10:07 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Pure & simply we win the game were through. Can be no excuses the Management need to get it right & the players need to get it right. The media are just waiting for us to fall i really hope we can disappoint them. Great read again David.

    • December 10, 2014  12:00 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug but Pure & Simple doesn't quite wash! (Sorry being a bit of a smart arse here as it is a soap product ;-) ) If CSKA beat Bayern Munich or equal our result in Rome we are knocked out because they had a better head-to-head record against us. Similarly if Roma and CSKA end up on the same points, Roma qualify because they had a better head-to-head record against CSKA.

      Our only advantage is if we achieve any kind of score draw against Roma and CSKA have a worse outcome than our result in Rome e.g we win they draw, or we draw they lose, City go through because we have a better goal difference than Roma. A 0-0 draw is no good because UEFA reward the team that scored more goals away from home. Safe to say if we win 6-0 and CSKA 6-0 we're onto a good thing! Cheers fella.

  2. December 9, 2014  11:18 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    I for one will be watching this one from behind the settee. CTID!

    • December 10, 2014  12:03 am by David Walker Reply

      Sounds like an Italian tank on the battlefields of the 2nd WW - somewhat lacking ;-) Man up No 5 - come forth from behind thine sofa. Only joking mate - it's going to be one helluva ride!

  3. December 10, 2014  7:04 am by Guvnor Reply

    Good article Mr Walker I think it will be 1-1 , but hope it will be 0-2. I just pray that our Magician will unlock their back 4 CTWD

    • December 10, 2014  8:10 am by David Walker Reply

      1-1 gets the job done as long as CSKA lose in Bavaria tonight. How ironic that we might qualify with as few as 6 points when we have gone out in previous Champions League campaigns with 10. Come on CITY! Cheers Guvnor.

  4. December 10, 2014  10:21 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Good job im not in charge isn't it Dave maths was never my strong point at school. Thanks for correcting me hope i don't get detention.

    • December 10, 2014  1:31 pm by David Walker Reply

      No detention Doug...but not a hope in hell of being milk monitor next week! ;-) Forza Pellegrini.

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