Roma v Real Madrid – Stadio Olimpico at 19:45 live on BT Sport Europe
This week is all about cup competitions, with the FA Cup 5th round being played at the weekend and before that the pinnacle of European club competitions returns, with the round of the last 16 in the UEFA Champions League!
The highlight of tonight’s action, undoubtedly comes from Italy where Roma will be hosting ten time European Champions, Real Madrid at the Stadio Olimpico. Unfortunately, for Luciano Spalletti and his Giallorossi, they are facing a near impossible task of qualifying for the quarter finals.
On top of that, their Champions League form this season leaves a lot to be desired and will not do their confidence any good heading into this first leg match in front of their own fans.
During the group phase of the competition last year, Roma only squeezed through to the knockout stages by virtue of their head to head record over Bayer Leverkusen. In fact, the 3-2 victory at home against Leverkusen which, saw them reach this knockout phase, was their only win from the six group games!
Another ominous sign for Spaletti’s team is their terrible defensive record in the group stage, where they somehow managed to concede and incredible 16 goals which, was four more than BATE Borisov who finished last in the group.
At least Roma’s fans can cite the team’s recent domestic form as a source of hope for this match, as Roma have won their last four Serie A games on the bounce. Plus, despite that woeful Champions League record, they have only lost one game at home all season, a run that includes a notable draw with Barcelona back in September.
The visitors on the other hand, strolled through to the knockout phase of the competition with their usual swagger, winning five and drawing one of their six group games. Los Blancos racked up an almost unbelievable 19 goals over the six games and having conceded just three, they qualified with the best overall record in the competition.
Domestically, Real’s form has been very impressive, especially since Zinedine Zidane took the reins at the start of 2016. They remain undefeated under their former player, having won five and drawn one of the six games that he has been manager for.
Roma are expected to have their talismanic duo, Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi available for the match tonight, while Gareth Bale and Pepe are still out injured for Real Madrid.
While, Real Madrid do not have a good record when playing in Italy and are certainly not firing on all cylinders yet, it is difficult to see how Roma can stop them tonight. Even with their recent run of victories in mind, it is a huge step up when facing Madrid in the Champions League regardless of their solid home form.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the competitions top scorer with a ridiculous 11 goals from the six group stage games and French forward Karim Benzema, seems to have found some form since playing under fellow countryman, Zidane.
Looking at the markets for the match, I was slightly surprised to see Real Madrid -0.5 priced up at 1.85 and although, I am sure that Roma will make life difficult for the Spaniards, this is a great chance for Zidane’s team to establish a near unassailable lead in the tie and they will be disappointed with anything less than a win.
My model price for Madrid was closer to 1.6 then 1.8 and so, to be getting above that price is too much value to turn down, especially considering the two teams respective Champions League form this season.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Real Madrid -0.5 at 1.85
Prices correct at the time of writing.
Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker, winners welcome.