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Bayer Leverkusen v Roma: De Rossi preparing for ´knockout´ clash

Daniele De Rossi knows Roma can ill-afford another defeat when they take on Bayer Leverkusen if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

Roma travel to Germany for Tuesday’s encounter sitting bottom of Group E with just one point from their opening two matches.

An encouraging 1-1 home draw with defending champions Barcelona on matchday one was followed by a shock 3-2 defeat at BATE, in which Rudi Garcia’s men found themselves three goals down within half an hour.

With Barca leading the group on four points and BATE and Leverkusen having earned three apiece, De Rossi knows Tuesday’s clash is of huge significance.

“There’s no question it won’t be easy against Leverkusen because we’re playing away from home and they are a quality side,” said the midfielder, who celebrated his 500th game for the club with a goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Empoli.

“Qualification to the next round of the Champions League is at stake in this match so it will be a kind of mini knockout game.”

Garcia, meanwhile, hopes Roma’s strong Serie A form will transfer to European competition.

“We’ve won three in a row and now we can concentrate on the Champions League. We’ll go to Leverkusen to win,” he said.

Leverkusen come into the game without a win in three matches across all competitions, a 2-1 defeat to Barca on matchday two having preceded two draws in the Bundesliga – with Roger Schmidt’s men held 0-0 at Hamburg on Saturday.

Tuesday’s clash marks the first of back-to-back games between the pair in Group E, with Leverkusen’s Christoph Kramer in no doubt as to their importance.

“Yes, we expected the two Roma games to be key,” he said. “At the moment, though, we’re in a better position and obviously want to qualify from the group.

“From Sunday, we’ll be working hard on our preparations for the Roma game. We’ve already shown this season that we can create chances against anyone – even Barcelona.

“We’ll try to impose our game on the Italians. I think it’ll be a really intense game. I think it’ll be uncomfortable for Roma to play against us.”

Garcia looks set to be boosted by the return to fitness of Edin Dzeko, who has not featured since September 26 after suffering a knee injury.

Leverkusen have already prevailed against Italian opposition in this season’s competition, having ousted Roma’s fierce rivals Lazio 3-1 on aggregate in the play-off round.

Sun 18 Oct, 2015
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