REAL MADRID-ROMA

Real Madrid host Roma in Champions League second leg

Zidane opts for his tried and trusted with the return of the Champions League at the Bernabeu tonight. James or Isco still the midfield doubt.

Real Madrid host Roma in Champions League second leg
DANI SANCHEZ DIARIO AS

"We need to give him time”. This is how Zinedine Zidane responded to a question relating to Borja Mayoral in yesterday’s press conference ahead of tonight’s Champions League match at the Bernabeu. The French coach is aware that Benzema won’t be fit for the Roma game and clearly feels that the European stage is one step to far for the young 18 year old from Parla. With the return of the Champions to the Bernabeu and despite the favorable 0-2 score line from the first leg, Zidane quite clearly feels that European football’s biggest stage is not the place for his younger players. The French coach will start opt to start his ‘classic’s such as Gareth Bale and Marcelo who are fit again.

The Welsh player has already missed 17 games this season due to injury will be anxious to return to the stage where he left off. The player from Cardiff scoring nine goals in five games and restoring faith among the Real Madrid faithful. Bale has yet to get on target in this seasons Champions League and will anxious to address this point later when his side faces the Serie A opposition. Arguably one of Madrid’s players of the season Marcelo is back too. His hyperactivity a positive reinforcement for Madrid’s left hand side.

With the bulk of the starting positions already clear, the midfield position occupied by Isco against Celta remains a doubt. It may be that Zidane was resting James Rodriguez in Saturday’s LaLiga match despite his ongoing relationship with the Bernabeu crowd being indifferent for the Colombian international at present. Lucas Vázquez provides a third alternative for the role and has assumed the responsibility admirably when the challenge has been placed his way.

Upfront attention will turn to the erratic Cristiano despite his 12 goals in this season’s competition and nine strikes in the last six games for the club. The Bernabeu began to get on his back last Saturday and his way of reply was scoring four times in a 26 minute spell. He is Real Madrid’s Mr. Champions and be aiming to overtake his record of 17 goals scored in the 2013/14 Champions League campaign.

Tonight’s opposition AS Roma arrive in Madrid with an uphill task. Under new coach, Spalletti things domestically are working well for the Serie A side winning the past seven league matches and the side are now up to third in the Italian table. The Winter signings are working well with El Shaarawy and Salah gelling well with their team mates. Spalletti will be without Rudiger, De Rossi and possibly Nainggolan. The worrying aspect for the Italian coach is the poor form that reference striker Dzeko is experiencing an average of just one goal per three games. The Italian side will be cheered on by 2.500 ‘tifosi’ and Spalletti has emphasized to his side that the game is to be taken very seriously.