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Roma v Bayer Leverkusen: Nainggolan fired up for must-win encounter

Radja Nainggolan accepts Roma’s Champions League campaign this season hinges on taking maximum points against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Roma came from 2-0 down to lead 4-2 with just six minutes to play in the reverse fixture last month only for Leverkusen to snatch a draw with two late goals.

The result left Rudi Garcia’s side bottom of Group E without a victory from their first three games and their morale was dealt a further blow at the weekend thanks to a 1-0 defeat to Serie A title rivals Inter.

Nainggolan has called on his side to show a more ruthless edge in front of goal as they look for a victory to keep their last 16 hopes alive.

“Wednesday’s match is very important. We have to win it at all costs to be in with a chance of qualifying,” he told Roma’s official website.

“We weren’t clinical enough [against Inter]. We had opportunities, we actually created more compared with other games and we didn’t deserve to lose.”

Leverkusen, by contrast, have been almost unstoppable in front of goal since the 4-4 draw with Roma, scoring 11 times in just three matches in domestic competition.

Question marks remain over their defensive record, however, especially after their 2-1 defeat to Wolfsburg at the weekend, but midfield star Hakan Calhanoglu insists their attacking approach under Roger Schmidt is proving successful.

“He has been doing a really great job and treats us the way every player would wish to be treated. We have all been growing together,” said the Turkey international to UEFA.com.

“We are a very young team that is willing and hungry. And we want to continue to show that. People think our coach’s playing style is a bit too attack-minded and reckless, but we achieve a lot with this system.”

Seydou Keita and Francesco Totti (both thigh) remain sidelined for Roma but Garcia will hope to have Daniele De Rossi fully fit again after he made the bench against Inter.

Ryu Seung-woo (ankle), Tin Jedvaj (thigh) and Roberto Hilbert (knee) are out for the visitors, while Lars Bender (ankle) is a major doubt.

Roma have only won one of their last eight home games in UEFA competition and were thrashed 7-1 by Bayern Munich when they last hosted a Bundesliga side last season.

Leverkusen, however, have only won once in eight visits to Italy, with their last away game against Roma – in November 2004 – ending 1-1 thanks to a late Dimitar Berbatov goal.

Mon 2 Nov, 2015
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