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Crunch Champions League clash for Man City against Roma

Manchester City travel to the Italian capital knowing that nothing less than a win will guarantee them qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League. For the visitors to win and both teams to score, Coral are offering an outstanding 9/2 price.

The Premier League champions are 9/5 to beat Roma in their own backyard, though the Stadio Olimpico is a hostile place to go. With no Sergio Aguero, the visitors’ task is made even harder. Currently leading the Premier League goalscoring charts on 14 and 19 in all appearances, the Argentine will be a huge miss having opened the scoring in the reverse match.

City coach Manuel Pellegrini, though, may welcome back captain Vincent Kompany and David Silva from injury who will be invaluable if they play. Goalscoring responsibility will, therefore, fall on Edin Dzeko, who is 2/1 to net anytime and looked lively in the reverse fixture. Stevan Jovetic, meanwhile, is available at 15/8 in the same market, having hit four in nine Premier League appearances.

For the hosts, fans’ favourite and Roma icon Francesco Totti netted the equaliser at the Etihad, and is 8/1 to break the deadlock. Ex-Arsenal attacker Gervinho is the club’s top scorer in Europe’s elite club competition with three, though, and 7/1 to notch the opener.

Right back Pablo Zabaleta, who is 16/1 to net anytime, has been speaking ahead of the crunch clash, and acknowledges the talent of his City teammates: “Of course, because we have the players to beat Roma. If we don’t beat them and we don’t go through it would be bad for the team because we want to be there.

“You never know, football is like that sometimes. You’re in the best moment and then you have a bad game. But when the confidence is high, you have more trust in yourself and we’re playing more as a team – that’s important to win it.”

“We are a much better team now than when we played Roma at home,” he continued. “Confidence is high and that is what we need to play against Roma and win the game. We know it’s a crucial game to go through to the next round.

“Rome is always a very difficult place to go and win. They have a very good team and they’re second in the league. If we continue playing in this way we’ll have a good chance to qualify.”

With regards to getting the team’s confidence back, Zabaleta added: “We were talking about defence because we knew that we weren’t defending well. We had a lot of meetings with the manager, watching videos. The manager was the key because he’d been talking with the whole team. After the World Cup it’s a very difficult year to build yourself physically and mentally.

“All we’ve done is work harder in the week and criticised ourselves to do better. We know the team we are, we needed to return to our best form, and we had enough quality in that team to win games, but we had to work more as a team. It was probably the key that made the team improve in the last few weeks and that’s why we’ve won crucial games.”

Should Pellegrini’s men win, Zabaleta knows they can go far: “Of course. I think the Champions League is probably the competition that at the moment we weren’t performing well enough to go further than what we have expected in the last few years. The draw has always been difficult for us.

“This team is learning about a lot of things and the Champions League is a competition where you play against the best teams in Europe. If you make mistakes then you’re out. Roma is a crucial game for us to show that we want to continue and go far. The quality is there to do this and hopefully we can play a great game and go through.”