By RYAN TOLMICH
Manchester City have endured a generally disappointing group stage campaign, but all can be forgotten if the English powerhouses can secure a spot in the knockout rounds Wednesday.
To do so, Manchester City will need to find a way to score against Roma Wednesday, as a victory or scoring draw gives the team an opportunity to advance. A loss or scoreless draw would see Roma through, while a Man City victory may not even be enough as a CSKA Moscow victory over Bayern Munich would also send the English side home.
Scoring a goal is normally no difficult task for Man City, but Wednesday’s clash includes an added challenge following the injury of forward Sergio Aguero, who is set to miss more than a month with a knee injury. In his place, Man City will likely go with Edin Dzeko up top, while defender Vincent Kompany and midfielder David Silva are also likely to miss out with injuries.
Roma, meanwhile, enters Wednesday having lost just one of their last seven games against English competition, including September’s 1-1 draw with Man City at the Etihad. Not as damaged by injuries as their counterparts, Roma will be without centerback Leandro Castan due to a head injury.
Here’s a closer look at some of Wednesday’s top games:
BARCELONA BATTLE PSG FOR FIRST PLACE IN GROUP F
In a clash of European heavyweights, Paris Saint-Germain is set to travel to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona with first place in Group F on the line.
PSG enter Wednesday on 13 points, one more than the opposition, despite pushing through a group stage campaign with a less-than-fit Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish star, who has missed a majority of the season’s start due to a heel injury, is likely to enter with a bit of extra fire as he takes on his former club.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will be slightly weakened on defense due to the absence of Dani Alves, who will join Rafinha on the sidelines after the duo picked up suspensions. Needing a victory, Barcelona will hope to avoid finishing second in the group stage since 2006-07.
EVERYTHING TO PLAY FOR IN GROUP G FOR SCHALKE, SPORTING CP
Chelsea have locked up the first qualifying position in Group G, but Germany’s Schalke and Portugal’s Sporting CP have everything to play for Wednesday.
The two sides enter the day with the opportunity to advance to the knockout stages, with Sporting needing either a win or draw against Chelsea to secure advancement. That result will seemingly be made a bit easier due to manager Jose Mourinho’s decision to rest stars Willian, John Terry and Eden Hazard ahead of this weekend’s Premier League matchup with Hull City.
While Sporting duels Chelsea, Schalke is set to take on Maribor, who will have plenty to play for as a win would send the Slovenian club into the Europa League. Schalke will also face the added difficulty of facing the injury bug, as midfielders Julian Draxler, Jefferson Farfan and Kevin-Prince Boateng are set to miss Wednesday’s game.
Have a closer look at Wednesday’s full schedule below:
Manchester City vs. Roma
Bayern Munich vs. CSKA Moscow
Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Ajax vs. APOEL
Chelsea vs. Sporting CP
Maribor vs. Schalke
Porto vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Athletic Bilbao vs. BATE
Who do you see advancing in Wednesday’s action? How will Man City fare against Roma? What do you expect from the Barcelona – PSG matchup?
Share your thoughts below.