Football

Zabaleta ready for Rome hostilities

- PHOTO: REUTERS

Defender Pablo Zabaleta hopes Manchester City can feed off a hostile atmosphere in Rome to make a big statement in Europe.

City's laboured attempts to reach the last 16 of the Champions League for a second successive year come to a potentially dramatic conclusion as they face Roma in the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

A stunning Sergio Aguero hat-trick against Bayern Munich a fortnight ago revived the English champions' hopes of progressing from Group E.

It was their first win in five attempts in the competition this season and another positive result could secure a place in the knockout stages that seemed unlikely a month ago.

The equation is still not straightforward, with City locked on five points with Roma and CSKA Moscow in pursuit of the second qualification spot behind Bayern. Such are the complexities of the group system that they could go through with a draw or out with a win, but it is almost certain to be a night of high tension in the Italian capital.

Zabaleta believes if City can survive such a test, the club can finally start to come of age in the Champions League.

The City right-back said: "Always Rome is a great atmosphere, and especially for this game because they have the same points. Also for them to go through in the competition would be massive.

"As a player, it is one of those games you really enjoy playing. You are playing against a top team and always the atmosphere there is just fantastic as well. It will be huge.

"I think the Champions League is the competition at the moment where we are not performing good enough, although it is true that the draw has always been difficult for us and we are a team that are learning about a lot of things.

"The Champions League is that competition where you play against the best teams from Europe and if you make mistakes you are out of it.

"I think Rome is a crucial game for us to show that we want to continue in that competition and we want to go far.

"The quality is there to do this and hopefully we can have a great game and go through." - PA Sport.

"We have the players to beat Roma and we will do everything possible to go through in the Champions League."

- Man Citydefender Pablo Zabaleta (above)


GROUP E EQUATION

  • Bayern have clinched first place.
  • Roma will go through with a win, or a draw if CSKA also draw.
  • If CSKA lose, Roma would go through with a goalless draw but out with a score draw.
  • CSKA, to finish second, must win and hope Roma don’t beat City.
  • City must win and hope CSKA don’t win, or get a score draw and hope CSKA lose. If City lose they are definitely out.

MATCHES

  • Roma v Man City
  • Bayern Munich v CSKA