The Champions League last 16 is set for a first leg encounter between Italian side Roma and Spanish giants Real Madrid later this evening (KO 19:45).
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The match is an interesting one from a managerial perspective as Zinedine Zidane will be taking charge of his first game in the biggest competition in club football while Roma boss Luciano Spalletti is also anticipating his first taste of managing in the Champions League since returning to Roma recently.
Both teams have enjoyed a strong run of form in their domestic leagues as of late.
Madrid are heavily favoured to pull off the away victory and take an advantage back home for the second leg of the fixture. Roma will look to play defensively in order to avoid conceding a harmful away goal. However, Roma cannot afford to play too conservatively as winning away from home will be very difficult indeed.
Spalletti will be looking for experience coming into the game and is heavily reliant on veteran players and two of the biggest names in the squad, Totti and De Rossi, may be making their return to the team after experiencing recent calf injuries.
Roma have been on a good run of results in Serie A as of late, most recently chalking up four consecutive victories. This past Friday, the home side managed a convincing 3-1 away victory against Carpi.
The only recent occasion where Roma were unable to triumph was a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Juventus at the end of January.
The Olimpico is a tough place for visiting sides and Roma are likely to put up more of a fight than many observers are expecting.
Real Madrid made it through the group stage of this year’s Champions League with ease and the Spanish Giants will be looking to Ronaldo to spearhead their attacking efforts. Zidane has experienced a number of injuries to his side as of late.
It is expected that Gareth Bale will not be healthy enough to play a part in Wednesday night’s action. Marcelo has recovered from a slight problem and will be available for selection for the first leg match. Pepe’s injury woes continue to keep him out of training and he will not play a part in the action in Italy.
Real Madrid are heavily favoured to take an advantage into the home leg of this contest by securing an invaluable away win.
Roma’s recent impressive form not withstanding, they lack the ability to deal with the multi faceted attacking threat of Real Madrid.
Zidane’s men are likely to attack early and often to secure an aggregate lead to take back to the Bernabeu.
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