Man City’s Edin Dzeko up to tall task of replacing Aguero: ‘I’m there when the team needs me’

The Bosnian striker must find a way to fill the scoring shoes of Sergio Aguero on Wednesday night as Manchester City play for their Champions League lives against AS Roma.
Edin Dzeko trains with Manchester City on Tuesday ahead of their Wednesday match against AS Roma in the Champions League. Phil Noble / Reuters / December 9, 2014
Edin Dzeko trains with Manchester City on Tuesday ahead of their Wednesday match against AS Roma in the Champions League. Phil Noble / Reuters / December 9, 2014

Edin Dzeko believes he can rise to the big occasion when Manchester City’s immediate Champions League fate is determined in Rome.

City face Roma at a fevered Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday hoping for the result that can prolong their latest campaign in Europe’s elite competition.

Their task is made all the harder by the absence of leading scorer Sergio Aguero, who faces four to six weeks out after suffering a knee injury in Saturday’s victory over Everton.

His goals will be hard to replace but City do at least have Dzeko available again after the Bosnian returned from a four-game lay-off with a calf injury in the closing 27 minutes against Eveton.

Dzeko is not one to shirk the big stage, having scored a number of critical goals for the club, and he is again relishing the challenge.

The 28-year-old said: “I’m there when the team needs me and I’m happy to be back. It was a bit hard for me but now I’m back and I’ll do my best to try and score the goals and bring something good to the team.”

Dzeko famously scored the late equaliser in the final-day victory over QPR that handed City the Premier League title in dramatic circumstances in 2012.

He played another vital role in last year’s run-in, scoring five goals in the three games prior to the last match to put City in touching distance of a second crown in three seasons.

But Dzeko said: “That’s past now and we have to look to the future and, like I said, I always try to do my job and my job is to score goals and I will keep scoring them, I’m sure, if I (keep) healthy.”

Aguero’s form of late had seen him compared with the greatest players in the world and he has been the key factor in City’s recent revival.

Prior to the November international break, the team won just once in six games and looked to be flagging in the Premier League and heading out of the Champions League.

That has changed with a run of victories fuelled by the Aguero-inspired late 3-2 win over Bayern Munich a fortnight ago. Aguero almost single-handedly kept City alive in the Champions League, scoring two late goals against the Germans to complete a hat-trick.

Dzeko accepts his absence will be sorely felt but he is determined to ensure his teammates’ efforts do not go to waste by following up with victory over Roma.

Dzeko said: “It was a big blow for us. You can see how many goals he scored in (the) last few games and he is our best and biggest player, with David Silva. Hopefully (it will not be) too many weeks but we have to deal with it.

“We have won five in a row. There is better confidence, better atmosphere in the team when you’re winning the games and I think we’re coming back to our normal performances. Hopefully we can be even better in the next week.”

The permutations for City are not straightforward, as they head into the final round of Group E fixtures level on five points with Roma and CSKA Moscow in the race for second place.

They need to win and hope CSKA do not beat Bayern, or at least claim a score draw if CSKA lose.

Dzeko said: “I think the atmosphere will be amazing and that’s what’s football’s about, and those are the kind of games we want to play.”

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Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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