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Champions League Preview: AS Roma vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid, Roma, Champions League, Ronaldo, Bale, Zidane
The Italian side is about to face the Spanish giant at Stadio Olimpico on 18 February in the second day of UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Zinedine Zidane returns to the Champions League scene as the head coach of Real Madrid, the club where he scored arguably the greatest goal in the tournament’s history. The Los Blancos take on AS Roma in the first knockout round of the competition.

The Frenchman replaced Rafa Benitez midway into the season and has had a fairly good start to his managerial career and will be hoping to recreate the magic he did under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti a couple of seasons ago. But for Real Madrid there have been constant hurdles this season; the elimination from the Copa Del Rey, the four point gap between them and leaders Barcelona, makes this competition a must win for the mist successful European club.

Roma on the other hand have improved drastically under new coach Luciano Spaletti, losing just once since January. The Italian side come into this game on the back of a 3-1 win over Capri and will be hoping to make the home advantage count.

“The Champions League gives us extra motivation, so let’s keep hold of the buzz from this match and use that extra level of conviction that perhaps we’ve been missing,” Spaletti said.

Roma have not reached the last eight since then and scraped into this season’s knockout stage after winning just one group game under Rudi Garcia.

In terms of injuries, Zidane is without Pepe and Gareth Bale. Marcelo is back in the squad following a shoulder problem. Experienced pair of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi are expected to return for Roma following calf troubles.

French defender Raphael Varane’s contract extension provides further boost to Real Madrid as they will be hoping to live upto their favourites tag ahead of the game.

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