Real Madrid keen to put an end to their bad run of form against Italian opponents when they travel to Roma for the first leg encounter in the Champions League round of 16.
Roma had a terrible run of results under former coach Rudi Garcia, who has been replaced by Luciano Spalletti early this year. Spaletti, who is in his second spell at the Rome based outfit has helped the Serie A side knockout Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the competition in 2007/08 season winning both legs by the same 2-1 scoreline. Since then, Roma have not reached the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Real Madrid haven’t won against Italian teams in their last eight knockout matches in European cup matches. The last time they got past a Serie A side was in the 1997/98 edition of European Champion Cup, when they knocked out Napoli on 3-1 aggregate, after drawing the second leg in Naples 1-1.
Zinedine Zidane is set to make his Champions league debut as Real Madrid coach and this time he believes his team is fully prepared and ready to come out with a positive result on Wednesday night.
Roma vs Real Madrid : Form Comparison
Roma qualified to the knock out rounds as second placed team from a group including Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen, despite winning only once out of their 6 matches. They were struggling in all competitions under the management of Rudi Garcia and with the arrival of Spalletti in Januray, things have moved towards a positive direction.
They are coming on the back of 4 successive wins in Serie A and are currently fourth in the table with 47 points, 10 points behind the league leaders Juventus.
Real Madrid progressed from a group involving PSG with an unbeaten record with 5 wins and a draw to their name. They have scored 19 goals in the group sage, the most by any team so far.
They are almost unstoppable at home, but their recent showing on the road are disappointing as they have won only once in their last four away games in the league.
Real News : Team News
Zidane will be without the services of their star player Gareth Bale, while there is some good news as left-back Marcelo has passed the fitness test, but it would be interesting to see if he will start.
The young Brazilian midfielder Casemiro is suspended, but he has hardly featured under Zidane in the recent outings.
Mateo Kovacic who started against Bilbao in the weekend is expected to keep his place in the lineup at the expense of Isco in order to deal with the physical strength of Roma midfield.
Real Madrid : Starting Lineup vs Roma (4-3-3)
Navas – Carvajal, Marcelo, Ramos, Varane – Kovacis, Kroos, Modric – Ronaldo, James, Benzema.
Roma : Team News
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has no major injury worries ahead of this crucial match, but Naingollan and Daniel De Rossi are suspended for the first leg.
He is expected to favour a 4-2-3-1 formation to deal with the direct attacking threat of Ronaldo and co.
Roma : Predicted Lineup vs Real Madrid
Szczęsny – Digne, Rudiger, Manolas, Florenzi – Pjanic, Keita – Mohamed Salah, Perotti, El Shaarawy – Edin Dzeko
Roma vs Real Madrid : Head-to-Head
When the teams met each other in the round of 16 in the 2007/08 season, Roma beat Real Madrid in both legs by the same 2-1 score to advance to quarter finals on a 4-2 aggregate.
The teams were drawn together in the group stages of 2004/05 seasons. Real emerged winners on both occasions by 4-2 at Madrid and 3-0 at Rome. This was Zidane’s last appearance against Rome which lasted 14 matches in a record of 7 wins, 5 draws and 2 defeats.
Roma v Real Madrid : Match Prediction
Real Madrid have plenty to worry about their defence ahead of this trip to Rome. They looked brittle at the back in their last encounter gifting the opposition plenty of scoring chances. Meanwhile, their scoring form away from home is also a worry for head coach Zidane as they have scored just 5 goals in the last four away games conceding the same amount.
Roma looked to have stabilized their ship since Spalletti took over and they are they have lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions. Their new arrivals in January, Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti have quickly integrated into the team and could provide a big threat for Sergio Ramos and Varane.
All eyes will be on Ronaldo’s performance who has failed to raise his game against big team’s this season. A repeated fate of the Portuguese could really leave Real Madrid in big trouble.
This is a match that could go either way. But on paper, Real Madrid has the quality to win this comfortable and will go into the match as favorites. At the same time, Roma are no pushover and will be going into this match with less pressure than their opponents.
The prediction for this match is Real Madrid to win against Roma by 2 goals to 1.
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