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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Champions League Round Of 16 Preview - Real Madrid - Roma


Real Madrid

Unfortunately Schuster will have to do without a whole host of key players once again as the Madrid injury list continues to grow. As mentioned earlier, Robben is the latest casualty. Van Nistelrooy will remain on the sidelines with an ankle injury, although Guti could potentially return, and take up an advanced role just behind Raul and Robinho.Pepe may be called upon this week to replace the suspended Sergio Ramos; however it will be tough for the Madrid defender as he has just returned from a torn calf muscle that kept him out of action for two months. Metzelder still has another two months to overcome an injury to his foot, which he is currently undergoing rehabilitation work for; whilst fringe player Javier Saviola is also still out with a sprained knee and ankle. Finally, Wesley Sneijder is out for another two weeks as he is still recovering from a fractured rib he suffered in training. In some positive news for Madrid, Robinho’s little cameo on the weekend, which produced two goals, is a good indicator that he has fully recovered from his torn abdominal muscle. In the absence of Van Nistelrooy and Robben, and despite his lack of match fitness, he should play from the start. Thankfully Cannavaro successfully managed to get through 74 minutes of action against Recreativo at the weekend, meaning that he is well and truly over the knock that he picked up against Getafe.


As mentioned earlier, Spalletti has a near full strength squad at his disposal, with the exception of right-back Marco Cassetti, who is out with a shoulder injury. Panucci will start at right-back, with Tonetto on the left. Juan, Mexes, De Rossi, Pizarro and Perrotta were all rested on the weekend, and thus the Giallorossi will be fresh and raring to go this week.Juan and Mancini have both fully recovered from injury and are definite starters at the Bernabéu, whilst Spalletti will most likely opt to start Giuly alongside Perrotta and Mancini, in place of the out of form Taddei, in the three man attacking line-up behind Totti.


Real Madrid (4-3-3)Casillas; Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze, Torres; Diarra, Gago, Baptista; Guti Robinho, Raul.

Roma (4-2-3-1)Doni; Panucci, Juan, Mexes, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Giuly, Perrotta, Mancini; Totti.


Real Madrid – Robinho: His exceptional comeback could not have come at a better time, as he is a necessity for his side this week. With so many crucial players out of action for Madrid, Robinho must perform, score, and do all he can to ensure that his team succeed. The fact that he did not play the first leg may have its advantages for he and his side, and so, the Brazilian maestro has ninety minutes at the Bernabéu this week to utilize his pace, creativity and quality to ensure his side do not crash out at this stage for the fourth consecutive season.

Roma – Francesco Totti: Totti has been simply brilliant in recent times, and with another wonder strike against Parma at the weekend, he is slowly regaining the brilliance that saw him emerge as the top scorer in Europe last season. As he did at this stage last year in France against Lyon, Totti will be expected to lead from the front this week, as Roma face one of the most daunting trips in European football. When Totti plays well, Roma play well: thus if Roma can reproduce the form that has allowed them to be so successful in recent times, a shock at the Bernabéu may be on the cards.


This will be a thrilling contest between two quality sides. Despite the fact that Real are decimated by injury, there is still plenty of quality present to get the job done. When a side contains the likes of Casillas in goal, Cannavaro, Heinze and Pepe in defence, and an attacking duo in Raul and Robinho, defeating them is not an easy thing to do.Having said that, Roma are in arguably their best form of the season, and due to their lack of injuries and suspensions, they seem a more team-based unit at the moment. It will be a highly competitive contest, and with Madrid needing to score, goals will certainly come.It is extremely tough to pick a winner in this second leg, and so to not sit on the fence, I feel that the plethora of injuries in the Madrid camp at the moment, and the form that the Giallorossi are currently in, will be too much for El Real to handle. Roma to net the winner at the death.

Real Madrid 1-2 Roma