Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo should prove too strong for Roma in UEFA Champions League action

Christiano Ronaldo
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Real Madrid to win @ 10/11 (1.91) with Paddy Power

It’s something of a minor miracle that AS Roma qualified from the group stage looking at the statistics. They won just one of their six matches, could only muster a paltry six points and conceded 16 goals in edging out Bayer Leverkusen and BATE Borisov to finish runners-up in Group E, a full eight points adrift of Barcelona.

Having been the early Serie A pace-setters this season, Roma then fell away with a poor run of form towards the latter part of 2015, during which goals and victories both dried up.  There was also a 6-1 defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League.

Roma eventually called time on their French coach Rudi Garcia a month ago, replacing him with Luciano Spalletti.  It was a return to the Stadio Olimpico for Spalletti, who was previously Roma boss for four years between 2005 and 2009. Spalletti was in charge when Roma recorded 2-1 home and away victories over Real Madrid at this same stage of the competition in 2007-08.  A potential omen perhaps?

Results have started to pick up again under Spalletti in recent games, with Roma having now won four on the bounce following their 3-1 win at the weekend at to relegation threatened Carpi.

Real Madrid have also had a recent managerial change of course, with Zinedine Zidane being promoted to head coach following the decision to part company with Rafael Benitez in January.  It’s four wins from five games at the helm to date for the French legend and 19 goals scored in the process.  With Roma having been so porous defensively in the group stage, that has to be a concern for the Italians.

Real Madrid topped their Champions League group stage ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, although they were perhaps a tad fortunate in taking four points from the French champions.  They were also the joint highest goalscorers in the group stage alongside Bayern Munich, bagging 19. Of those goals, 11 were scored by Cristiano Ronaldo.  There are few players for whom personal records are more important than Ronaldo and he will be keen to add to that tally against a suspect Roma rearguard.

Gareth Bale and Marcelo are both rated as injury doubts for Real Madrid and this is by no means a vintage team that Zidane has at his disposal.  Even so, they should be too strong over the two legs and could well put the tie all but beyond Roma in the Italian capital.

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