Miralem Pjanic has ambitiously called for Roma to produce the “perfect” performance as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
In-form Roma have won seven straight Serie A games, their only defeat since late January coming in this tie’s first leg on home soil.
The Serie A side now face a daunting trip to the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, where Madrid have won 28 of their last 33 Champions League games and have not suffered defeat by two clear goals since a 2-0 reverse to Barcelona in the 2010-11 semi-finals.
Regardless, Pjanic remains bullish over Roma’s chances, his confidence boosted by the capital club’s significant upturn in form since Luciano Spalletti replaced Rudi Garcia in the Roma dugout.
“This is the true Roma,” midfielder Pjanic told Roma Radio. “We will go to Madrid and try to put in a perfect performance.
“We know that it will be difficult but we will do our best nonetheless. Obviously we tried to score at least one goal during the first leg, although things were complicated and we will now try to complete a perfect match and hurt them whenever we can.
“I am feeling great along with the rest of the team. I like playing like this but that is obvious.
“Physically we are all fine and everyone knows what they must do on the field. We always have a team-mate free to which we can pass the ball and this demonstrates our confidence on the field.”
Madrid come into the contest in ominous form of their own, responding to last weekend’s derby defeat to Atletico Madrid by beating Levante 3-1 in midweek and then thrashing Celta Vigo 7-1 at the Bernabeu.
Cristiano Ronaldo – who opened the scoring in the first leg in Rome – netted four times against the Galician side, moving to second on the all-time Liga scoring charts, behind only great rival Lionel Messi.
With Karim Benzema still injured, the attacking burden will once again fall on the Portugal captain, although Gareth Bale returned from a calf injury with a goal from the bench against Celta and may get a start in continental action.
Midfield general Daniele De Rossi misses out for Roma, while Radja Nainggolan and Antonio Rudiger trained alone over the weekend and face late fitness checks.
Key Opta stats:
– Roma are one of three clubs to have registered more wins than defeats against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League, alongside Arsenal and Barcelona. The Italian side have won two, drawn one and lost one.
– Madrid are one of two clubs still unbeaten in the Champions League this season, the other being Barcelona.
– No team has scored more goals than Madrid in the Champions League this season (21, alongside Bayern Munich).
– Meanwhile, Roma’s games have produced more goals than any other team in the competition this season: 29 (11 for, 18 against).
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