Manchester City will hope to pick their first points of the Champions League group stage when they host Italian side Roma at the Etihad on Tuesday (19:45 BST, live on ITV1).
City suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Bayern Munich in their opening match in Group E, while Roma recorded a commanding 5-1 victory over CSKA Moscow at the Stadio Olimpico. A defeat for City in this match would make things very difficult for them going forward.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side come into the match on the back of a 4-2 victory away to Hull on Saturday. The reigning Premier League champions are third in the nascent league table, with 11 points from three wins, two draws and one defeat.
Man City made a strong start against Hull, going two up inside the opening 11 minutes through Sergio Aguero (pictured) and Edin Dzeko. Two errors from defender Eliaquim Mangala did, however, allow their hosts to go in level at half time. City laboured a little at the start of the second half, before further strikes from Dzeko and substitute Frank Lampard sealed the three points.
The quality of the opponents City have faced to date has made it hard to get an exact picture of where they stand in comparison to last season. They have already faced Bayern Munich and all three of their fellow top four finishers in the Premier League from last season. Despite only collecting one win from those fixtures, City performed well in all four.
The club were not as heavily active in the transfer market this summer as they have been in previous years, but they made some solid additions to improve the depth of Pellegrini’s squad. The core of the championship-winning team is still there, with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Aguero providing quality throughout the side.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Samir Nasri (groin) for this match, while Fernando (groin) and Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) are doubtful.
Roma have made an excellent start to the season and travel to the Etihad on the back of six consecutive victories in all competitions. They finished second in Serie A last season and again look the most likely challengers to reigning champions Juventus.
The Giallorossi were very impressive in their Champions League opener at home to CSKA Moscow. They attacked from the first whistle and quickly displayed an ability to cut through the disorganised away defence at will. They scored twice in the opening 10 minutes, twice more before half-time and once more early into the second half to a record a 5-1 victory.
That performance highlighted the excellent work that Rudi Garcia has done since taking over at the start of last season. The former Lille boss has formed an attractive side who are strong at the back and have plenty of energy and invention in the final third. Talented Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic provides the link between the two sections of the team.
Roma had the second-best defensive record in Serie A last season and have carried that solidity into the new campaign, conceding just twice in their six matches to date. They have three ex-Premier League players, in Ashley Cole, Gervinho and former City full-back Maicon, plus Newcastle loanee Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. At 38, Francesco Totti still heads their attack.
Garcia will definitely be without the injured Daniele de Rossi (calf), Davide Astori (knee), Federico Balzaretti (groin), Juan Iturbe (groin), Kevin Strootman (cruciate ligament) and Marco Borriello (calf), while Leandro Castan (thigh) and Salih Ucan (groin) are doubtful.
Man City v Roma Betting Tips Verdict
These sides have never before met in a competitive fixture. Man City are undefeated in four previous home matches against Italian sides in European competition, although their last victory came way back in 1978 against AC Milan. Roma have only won once in 14 previous matches on English soil. They lost 7-1 to Man Utd on their last visit to Manchester.
City will be looking for three points to get their Champions League campaign up and running. They have quality throughout the side and in Toure and Fernandinho possess two midfielders whose powerful forward runs will pose a threat Roma rarely face in Serie A. Up front, Aguero and Dzeko will provide a stiff test for the away defence.
Roma are in superb form and will certainly not make easy opponents. They have a stellar defensive record and a good variety of options in attack, with enough pace to potentially cause City some problems. It will, however, be interesting to see to what extent they are able to exert the same midfield dominance they usually exhibit in their domestic league.
It will be a close match, but one from which we believe City will emerge victorious.