One of the more intriguing round of 16 ties begins on Wednesday in the Stadio Olimpico as Roma entertain Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. Roma are looking to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time in nearly ten years. Madrid are looking for title number 11, having exited the competition last year to a side from Italy.
Italian clubs have generally fared quite well in the premier European competition. Milan, Inter and Juventus have all won titles.
Roma? Well their best is a final appearance in 1984. It’s been a story of what could’ve been for the Giallorossi.. Coming second in a group containing Barca, Leverkusen and BATE Borisov is no mean feat though.
Domestically they haven’t been too bad. Gervinho, Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko (remember them? Us neither) have , alongside Morgan Pjanic , fired Roma to third in Serie A. A defeat to Juve derailed their title charge in December and they’re now in a scrap for qualification to next year’s Champions League.
As is always the case Real are in a tussle at the top of La Liga with Barcelona and city rivals Atletico. Ever since they got rid of Rafa Benitez, they’ve been crushing opponents, scoring 23 goals in six games, conceding just five. They topped Group A ahead of Paris Saint Germain, Shakhtar and Malmo FF. They’re the top scorers in Europe’s top five divisions, have arguably the hottest front three in Europe with Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo, and are the most successful club in Champions League history. But they’ve lost nearly 40% of their games against Italian opposition so Zizou has reason to be worried.
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- Real Madrid have only lost two games in the Champions League since completing the Decima.
- These sides haven’t met since 2008 – where at this stage a brace of 2-1 victories saw Roma go through.
- Both sides have only lost thrice each in the last three months.
Roma have only lost once at home all season and Madrid have only won two of their last six away games in La Liga. Both teams have been getting goals for fun recently, so over 2.5 goals and both teams to score are bankers.
Current Roma manager Luciano Spalletti was the mastermind behind those Roma wins in 2008. He knows how to beat the Galacticos. At to win his side seem a bit undervalued. I think Zidane will want the tie to be alive going to the Bernabeu, so a 2-1 loss wouldn’t be the worst result for him.