AS Roma vs Real Madrid: Preview, TV Channel Info, Team News, Prediction, Betting Odds
All eyes will be on Zinedine Zidane when Real Madrid set afoot at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome as the French gaffer makes his Champions League bow as the head coach.
The 43-year old has some fond memories of the premier European club competition, having helped Los Blancos lift the coveted Big Ol’ Ears back in 2002 after scoring that impeccable volley through the Glasgow sky. 14 years later, Zidane steps into Champions League waters again, albeit not as a player, but as the manager of a team.
All the 6 Madrid games he has presided over have come in the league, but now it’s time to step into the uncharted territory. The former French great is all set to take charge of his first European game, and expectations are enormous.
Standing in the way between his side and a quarter-final berth are Italian giants AS Roma, who have improved considerably under their new manager Luciano Spaletti. The Italian took over from Rudi Garcia last month and are picking up from the pieces they were left in by the latter. Spaletti managed Roma between 2005 to 2009 and is now into his second spell with the capital club.
Ahead of the gripping encounter between Real Madrid and AS Roma, here’s your guide to all that you need to know.
Kickoff and Telecast
Date and Time: Thursday, 18th February 2016 – 01:15 AM (IST)
Live Telecast: Ten Action, Ten HD
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Hosts AS Roma will be bolstered by the return of primus inter pares Francesco Totti and Daniel de Rossi after a lay-off from calf problems, barring whom, they do not have any additional injury concerns.
On the flip side, there are a few issues in the enemy camp as Real Madrid travel without Pepe and Gareth Bale, who are sidelined with foot and calf injuries respectively. The only silver lining is the return of Marcelo after the Brazilian dislocated his shoulder few weeks ago, and is in contention to start.
AS Roma (3-5-2): Szczesny; Manolas, De Rossi, Rudiger; Florenzi, Pjanic, Perotti, Keita, Nainngolan; El Shaarawy, Dzeko.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos,Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; Rodriguez, Benzema, Ronaldo.
AS Roma enter the fray in perfect condition. After winning 4 league games on the spin, their confidence has been restored and are looking like their former self. They’ve climbed upto 4th in the table after dropping out of top 5 last month and European ambitions have boomed once again.
What’s actually worrisome is their record in the Champions League this season, though. The Wolves managed to progress to the last 16 by the skin of their teeth, having won only 1 game out of 6 matches were also belted black and blue by Barcelona when they lost 6-1 at Camp Nou.
Last 5 matches: L-W-W-W-W (Last result: Carpi 1-3 AS Roma)
If Roma have stuttered on their way to this stage, then Real Madrid have cantered. The 10-time European champions came out as the leaders group A ahead of PSG after finishing the group phase without a defeat and winning 5.
Whilst they have been erratic in the league, Los Blancos have been relentless during European nights. With 19 goals scored, the Whites had the joint best scoring tally in the group round and also the joint-best goal-difference, having let in a meagre 3 goals in 6 games.
The visitors will look to recommence their European quest in the same vein.
Last 5 matches: W-D-W-W-W (Last result: Real Madrid 4-2 Athletic Bilbao)
- The sides last met in a competitive game in 2008 and at the same stage. Roma progressed at the expense of Real Madrid after winning the tie 4-2 on aggregate and Luciano Spaletti was their manager back then.
- Real Madrid have never won in their last 8 visits to Italy.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was twice on target against AS Roma when Manchester United beat them 7-1 at the Old Trafford in 2007.
- AS Roma play their first round of 16 games since 2010/11 season, the last time they made it thus far.
- Los Blancos have reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 5 seasons.
Miralem Pjanic vs Luka Modric
Under Zinedine Zidane, midfield maestro Luka Modric has gained prominence in the team set-up as the French manager has opted for a possession-based game for his Real Madrid team. The Croat, working in tandem with Kroos and Isco, has become the vital cog that has kept the Blancos machine running, and is just as pivotal to this tie.
Modric is responsible for recycling the ball and spraying relentless passes upfront. He is the chief orchestrator and also the deciding factor for his side. His well functioning in the centre could mean problems for the opposing sides, and that’s why Miralem Pjanic, who goes head-to-head against the Croatian, will be entrusted with the task of obstructing his movements.
Should the Bosnian starve him out of possession and nullify Modric’s threat, Roma are equivalent of going 1-0 up.
Real Madrid have been terrific in the Champions League, but their recent away form makes it quite hard to prognosticate an outcome for the game. Also considering Roma’s recent revival, the tie can be end-to-end. But expect the visitor’s superior quality to help them come away all smiles.
Predicted score: AS Roma 1-2 Real Madrid
Betting Odds (bet365)
AS Roma – 7/2
Draw – 37/13
Real Madrid – 4/5