ROMA-REAL MADRID

Cristiano Ronaldo to test the Spalletti effect

Zizou welcomes back Marcelo and will look to Cristiano and Benzama in attack against a Roma side who have won four from four since Spalletti's arrival.

Real Madrid return to Champions League action this evening as they face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. Both teams feature new coaches still in their respective honeymoon periods with the arrival of Zinedane Zidane and Luciano Spalletti calming nerves at both clubs.

Cristiano Ronaldo is anxious to return to a competition where the forward from Madeira has scored more goals than any other player with 88 strikes. Indeed the Portuguese striker holds the record for most goals in any edition of the Champions League bagging 17 in the year when Madrid won the “Decima” in Lisbon 2014. The Portuguese player was clearly irked last night in the press conference when asked about his goal scoring record away from home and will be out to silence his detractors at the Olimpico tonight.

For the home side, Luciano Spalletti oversees his first European tie since his recent return to Roma after he left the Serie A club in 2009 when then president, Rosella Sensi called time on his four years on the Roma bench. Upon his return he has orchestrated four straight wins for the “Giallorossi” albeit against teams near the foot of the Serie A table: Frosinone, Sassuolo, Sampdoria and newly promoted Carpi. It remains to be seen if Spaletti’s return can calm the troubled social and sporting turmoil at the club.

Roma will look to the creativity of Mo Salah and the goal scoring prowess of Pjanic and Bosnian striker, Dzeko. Zidane making his Champions League debut welcomes back a fit again Marcelo and is set to play Isco in midfield. Cristiano and Benzema will lead the forward line with both players having scored 7 goals apiece during the Zidane era.

“Ten minutes off your game in the Champions League can be costly

Butragueño

There is a growing feeling at the Spanish club that European glory is that last chance saloon for silverware this season. “Ten minutes off your game in the Champions League can be costly”, a phrase often repeated by Emilio Butragueño. He knows exactly what he is talking about.