MANCHESTER, September 29- After late disappointment against Bayern Munich in their opening Champions League group game, Manchester City can ill afford another slip-up in Tuesday’s meeting with in-form Roma at the Etihad Stadium.
A 90th-minute goal by City old boy Jerome Boateng gave Bayern victory two weeks ago and with Roma opening their Group E campaign by crushing CSKA Moscow 5-1, the English champions are already under a degree of pressure.
Having smashed Sheffield Wednesday 7-0 in the League Cup before seeing off Hull City 4-2 on Saturday, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are scoring freely, but right-back Pablo Zabaleta knows Roma will be a different prospect.
“Now we need to turn the page and just think about the Champions League,” the Argentina right-back told City’s in-house television channel after the victory over Hull.
“We lost the first game against Bayern Munich and now we play Roma at home. We know how important it is to win that game.
“It’s going to be another tough game because Roma are a good team, so hopefully we can play well and get three points.”
Historically, Roma have not fared well against English clubs. They lost on penalties to Liverpool in their only European Cup final appearance in 1984 and have won only once on 14 previous visits to England.
Manchester was also the scene of one of their greatest humiliations — a 7-1 demolition by City’s cross-town rivals Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2007.
But while City have never lost at home to an Italian club in four previous encounters, they will be rightly wary of a team who are currently jostling for supremacy with Juventus at the top of Serie A.
– ‘Pressure on City’ –
Rudi Garcia’s side have won all six of their games to date this season, including a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona that took them level on points with Juventus ahead of this weekend’s showdown between the top two in Turin.
Saturday’s success against Verona took Garcia to 100 Serie A points in only his 43rd game at the helm — earlier than any previous Roma coach has reached the milestone — and he says his side will travel to Manchester in a relaxed state of mind.
“It will be a great match. They have no points, so all the pressure is on them. They need to get a result at their home ground,” said the Frenchman, whose side finished second to Juve in Italy last season.
“We are solid and we’ve shown we have confidence in our game. We’re ready to handle the challenges when they come, but we have to enjoy this experience and take what we can get from it.”
Roma are likely to be without Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi due to a torn calf muscle, while Davide Astori (knee) and Juan Iturbe (thigh) have not played since sustaining injuries against CSKA.
Dutch international midfielder Kevin Strootman remains a long-term absentee due to a knee injury, but Gervinho will return to the starting XI after beginning Saturday’s game on the bench.
Fernando (groin) and Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) are both injury doubts for City, while Samir Nasri has been ruled out for around a month due to groin surgery.
However, Zabaleta is back from suspension and Pellegrini will also be able to take a seat in the dug-out after completing a two-game touchline ban for criticising Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson last season.
The Chilean, who led City to a league and League Cup double in his debut campaign, must decide whether to restore Joe Hart in goal or keep faith with Willy Caballero, who started against Wednesday and Hull.