The Premier League champions are in a three-way battle for second place in Group E, along with the Serie A runners-up and CSKA Moscow, who face group winners Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
A victory for City would secure progress to the last 16, providing Bayern do not lose at home to CSKA, and right-back Zabaleta concedes an early exit would be merited if they don’t take three points in Italy.
“Of course because we have the players to beat Roma,” he said. “If we don’t beat them and we don’t go through it would be bad for the team because we want to be there.”
Roma had the better of a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in October but Zabaleta argued: “We are a much better team now than when we played Roma at home. Confidence is high at the moment.”
City have won their last five games, including a 3-2 triumph against Bayern, but that is their sole triumph in European football this season. They go to Italy with Zabaleta relishing the occasion at the Stadio Olimpco but without injured top scorer Sergio Aguero and with doubts over captain Vincent Kompany and playmaker David Silva, who has not played since October.
“The game against Bayern was the key for us to still have a chance to go through,” Zabaleta added. “Roma is a crucial game for us to show that we want to continue in the competition and go far. As a player it is one of those games you really enjoy to play. Rome is a great atmosphere, and especially for this game because they have the same points and also for them to go through in the competition would be massive.”
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