The calculators will be out in force as AS Roma and Manchester City clash for a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League today, with outsiders CSKA Moscow lurking in the background.
The head-to-head rule which UEFA use to separate teams who are level on points means that all sorts of complex connotations are possible as the three sides bid to follow runaway Group E leaders Bayern Munich into the next round.
City have never won a competitive match in Italy in four previous attempts and, even if they break that taboo, could still suffer another premature group-stage exit.
Roma’s fate is in their own hands as a win will be enough for them to go through, while a draw, paradoxically, could send either themselves or City through, depending on CSKA’s performance.
“City are obliged to win. They have all the pressure; not Roma. City are in the same period that Chelsea used to be before they won it. It becomes complex until you win the trophy,” Roma’s Ivorian striker Gervinho told British media.
The Giallorossi, City and CSKA all have five points from five games after mediocre campaigns in a group dominated by Bayern.
A win for Roma, still in the hunt despite losing 7-1 at home to the Bavarian club, will guarantee them a second-place finish even if CSKA also win, as the Serie A side would have the better head-to-head record against the Russian club.
CSKA can only qualify if they win in Munich and Roma fail to beat City, while City will qualify if they win and CSKA do not.
The rule fun begins if Roma and City draw. If CSKA also draw, Roma would go through and if the Moscow club lose, it would come down to the head-to-head record between the Serie A and Premier League sides. A goalless draw would favor Roma and a score draw would do the same for City.
The Manchester-based team have gone out in the group stage twice in three attempts and their task has been made ever harder after their leading scorer Sergio Aguero was injured against Everton on Saturday, forcing him out of the tie.
City will also be without suspended midfielder Yaya Toure, while skipper Vincent Kompany, and midfielders Stefan Jovetic and Fernandinho face late fitness tests.
However, forward James Milner believes that even without Aguero and Toure, City can get the result they need.
“Sergio is a world-class player and has been outstanding all season so the injury has come at a bad time. He is going to be very difficult to replace and even without him and Yaya we have a fantastic squad of players and, with the players we have, I am not too worried,” Milner said.
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