Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will provide the perfect test for revived Roma and their hunt for major trophies, with the Giallorossi finally showing some improvement to record four victories on the bounce. However, it is los Blancos that remain the favourites to go through, with their French boss set for his coaching debut in Europe’s elite competition.
It is fair to say that AS Roma have shown a great deal of potential under Rudi Garcia, but the French tactician was ultimately unable to take the Giallorossi to the next level, causing the club bosses to replace him with Luciano Spalletti. Not too many people expected the former Zenit coach to make instant impact on his return to Rome, but he quickly proved the doubters wrong, helping his side record four straight wins for the first time since September 2014. The confidence is obviously back at Stadio Olimpico, while the impressive run also revived the team’s top 3 bid, but it is now time to turn their attention to the Champions League campaign and the high-profile clash against Real Madrid. Having held mighty Barcelona to a 1-1 draw in the group stage clash on home soil, while also recording a 3-2 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, the Giallorossi have reason to hope for a good result against los Blancos. Nevertheless, their far from impressive back line will have their work cut out for them when facing the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema and James Rodriguez.
Mohamed Salah proved his fitness at the weekend and he keeps his place, while Miralem Pjanic will be recalled after he was rested against Carpi.
Daniele De Rossi and Vasilis Torosidis both face fitness tests, whereas Kevin Strootman, Francesco Totti and Ezequiel Ponce continue to miss out.
One of the world’s most successful clubs have endured some tough times of late, and club chiefs certainly played a major part. Nobody knows what they were thinking when they decided to replace Carlo Ancelotti with Rafael Benitez, but at least they seem to have been spot on when choosing the Spaniard’s replacement. Zinedine Zidane was surprisingly given the opportunity despite only managing Real Madrid Castilla in the past, but he has done pretty well since taking over the reigns. His arrival definitely improved the dressing room atmosphere and he also gave his star players more freedom, which resulted in improved performances. There is still a long way to go if los Blancos are to save this season, but they now have a chance to make a statement by defeating in-form Roma at their Stadio Olimpico. It is important to note though that Real Madrid have largely struggled on the road of late, with hard-fought win over Granada ending a four match winless run on the travels. This is why backing los Blancos to win may not be a tempting prospect, but we do expect them to score a couple in Rome.
Zinedine Zidane has received a welcoming boost as Marcelo recovered from a shoulder injury and the Brazilian should return to the starting line-up.
However, Gareth Bale will spend at least two or three weeks on the sidelines, whilst Pepe continues to miss out as well.
Key Factors to Consider
- AS Roma won each of their last four meetings with Real Madrid
- The Giallorossi recorded two 2-1 wins when the sides met in 2007/08 CL
- Roma recorded four straight wins with both teams scoring in three of those
- Both teams scored in each of Roma’s last four home fixtures
- Both teams scored in each of Real Madrid’s last three away games
AS Roma are brimming with confidence ahead of the high-profile clash against Real Madrid and they can be trusted to adopt a positive approach, just like they did in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona. Meanwhile, los Blancos have been scoring goals for fun of late, but have struggled on the road, and that is why both teams to score seems the most likely outcome.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 5/8