Garcia: I hoped Aguero would play against us

The Manchester City attacker has been ruled out of the Champions League encounter against the Serie A side in midweek and the Italian side’s coach is disappointed by the news

Roma coach Rudi Garcia says it is a “shame” that Manchester City star Sergio Aguero will miss the crucial Champions League match against his side.

The Serie A side welcome Manchester City to the Italian capital on Wednesday in a battle to see who will progress to the next round of the Champions League as they and CSKA Moscow lie even on five points heading into the final group stage game.

Aguero limped off of his side’s 1-0 win over Everton after just one minute and coach Manuel Pellegrini has revealed that it is highly unlikely that he will be fit for the midweek tie.

The absence of the Argentine, who has scored 19 goals in 19 league and Champions League appearances this term, comes as a huge blow for the Premier League champions, but Garcia said he would have been happier if Aguero were available to play.

“It’s a shame,” he said when asked for his thoughts on the news. “Aguero is such a great player and if it’s really a serious injury then that is a pity for football.

“I’d have preferred to see him at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

“This is one of the reasons why we coaches rotate the squad. With Dzeko injured, Aguero was always playing and there was the risk of this happening.”

Garcia made six changes to his starting XI for Saturday’s meeting with Sassuolo, resting the likes of Francesco Totti, Gervinho, Radja Nainggolan and Maicon to keep them fresh for the important European meeting.

His side subsequently went 2-0 down after just 18 minutes in their own stadium but, despite Daniele De Rossi receiving a red card, fought back to secure a draw thanks to a penalty and an injury time strike from Adem Ljajic.

The 50-year-old coach was happy with his side as they completely dominated the match and created more opportunities against a well-organised opponent.

“This team has a soul,” he said. “If we needed more proof, we got it tonight. This feels like a victory. To fight back from 2-0 down with 10 men, the players were just exceptional.

“I can also say Sassuolo proved again they are a team with genuine quality, though we knew that already.

“The squad is there to be rotated. We can’t play a full season with just 11 men. I don’t have regrets about changing the team. I’m happy with the performance – with 10 men we had over 77 per cent possession and about 24 shots on goal.

“The only thing I felt we got wrong was that few of those finishes actually landed on target, which we need to improve.

“Destro could’ve changed his movement a little and gone for the near post with so many crosses coming in.”

Roma were given a penalty for a Gervinho shot which struck the leg of Sime Vrsaljko and bounced onto his hand and it helped turn the game, with Ljajic stepping up to convert it and halve the deficit with just 10 minutes left and equalising shortly afterwards.

Garcia, though, feels that it shows there needs to be more consistency in the rules with regards to handballs.

“There needs to be consistency in the decisions, that is the problem. We had a penalty against us for the ball hitting a player in a wall while covering their face.

“Here the ball would’ve gone through without hitting the arm. It would be a lot easier if there was a rule saying every handball in the box is a penalty.”

A Morgan De Sanctis blunder saw Sassuolo take the lead, just days after the goalkeeper signed a new contract.

“I think Morgan wanted to celebrate his renewal,” Garcia joked. “When we are 2-0 down against such a rapid attack, it is not easy to avoid being exposed to the counter-attack.

“I did see Sassuolo had one shot on target in the second half and De Sanctis performed a truly crucial save. I told him to keep his concentration, as even with 10 men we barely suffered at all.”