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Discontent among Roma fans ahead of Real Madrid's visit

Of the 70,000 tickets available for the Champions League clash only 50,000 have been sold. Luciano Spalletti’s return hasn’t lifted the air of skepticism among the Giallorossi fans.

MALOS TIEMPOS. La afición no está con el equipo y ni la visita del Madrid conseguirá que el Olímpico de Roma se llene.

Luciano Spalletti’s last game in charge of Roma in the Champions League was against Arsenal in February 2009. Even though Roma were sent crashing out of the round of 16 back then, 3,000 fans showed up to the training ground in Trigoria the next day to applaud the effort of their players. The bond between the supporters and the team was rock solid back then compared with the icy distance that exists between them these days, with little over twenty Tifosi making the journey to Trigoria this time round to cheer on the players ahead of tomorrow’s important fixture. Compounding the Giallorossi’s sense of isolation is the undeniably scary form Zidane’s Real Madrid are currently enjoying. The feeling in the Italian capital is that barring a miracle Los Blancos will brush the fourth-placed Serie A team aside. Roma don’t have totemic players like Totti to turn to on this occasion. De Rossi’s return to training for the first time in 13 days yesterday was merely designed to boost morale amongst a squad lacking in leadership.

A string of controversial decisions by the club’s president, James Pallota, has infuriated fans. The Miami-based hedge fund manager appointed a Canadian fitness coach to the first team, Darcy Norman. But that paled in significance compared with his decision to change the crest, replacing the A.S.R. (Associazione Sportiva Roma) with the name of the city. The American tycoon snubbed Italian brand Kappa in favour of a kit deal with Nike. All of that might have been forgiven had the team managed to pick up some silverware along the way, but after five years at the helm Pallota’s promise of titles has yet to produce a single trophy. Not even the return of Spalletti, which has had a noticeable effect on the players, has lifted the air of skepticism among the Roma supporters.

Roma's coach Luciano Spalletti reacts during Roma's game against Sampdoria
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Roma's coach Luciano Spalletti reacts during Roma's game against SampdoriaTIZIANA FABIAFP

Strike scheduled by the Olympic Stadium ultras

The atmosphere in the Stadio Olimpico could be cut with a knife these days, and not just because of the lackluster performances on the pitch. Ultras from both sides of the Rome divide (AS Roma and Lazio) have united to protest the decision to divide the stands behind the goals in the stadium for security reasons. The protest organisers are taking an unkind view on any picket line crossers as their “You’re either with us or against us” motto indicates.

However, a full house is expected for Real Madrid’s visit: the ultras will also be in attendance albeit in a ‘civilian’ capacity. In an exclusive interview with AS Spalletti expressed how much he misses the presence of the fans: “Their absence is a huge problem, but they’ll be back to support us for the Real Madrid game. They know we need them: Roma doesn’t only exist on the pitch, it also spills into the stands”.