Roma claimed a fourth consecutive win at the weekend to move up to fourth in Serie A. They were held by relegation threatened Carpi until the 84th minute though, and their apparent up-turn in form has as much to do with an easy run of fixtures as anything else, as three of those last four wins have come against the current bottom four in Italy. This is certainly a massive step up in comparison and Real Madrid warmed up with a win of their own, as they comfortably beat Athletic Bilbao 4-2.
Roma qualified for the knockout stages despite picking up just six points in the groups and finishing with a goal difference of -5. In fact no team in any group conceded more times than Roma and while they kept a clean sheet in their final game – a 0-0 at home against Bate – that was their first shutout in 27 European matches. Against the team that scored the most in the group stage that could spell trouble, particularly with Cristiano Ronaldo netting an incredible 11 times in those six matches.
Real are unbeaten in their last five Last 16 first legs, though they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last 10, and they’ve won eight of their last 10 European trips to teams ranked 11-50 in our rankings (we have Roma as 24th in Europe) with six wins by more than one goal.
There is better news for Roma in the surprisingly poor record of Spanish teams travelling to Italy in the Champions League. Since 2006/07, Spanish sides have won just two of 22 trips to Italy in the UCL while being beaten eight times, and that includes only one win in 14 attempts by Real Madrid and Barcelona. It’s an extraordinary statistic given the quality of those sides in this time (and also the relative weakness of Italian teams) but it’s not one that carries too much weight in affecting future results.
Roma have lost four of their last six home games against teams ranked in the top 30 in Europe (Real Madrid are third in our rankings) and while they were fortunate to reach this stage we expect that luck to run out here. They are missing Daniele de Rossi and the only group match the captain missed was the 6-1 thrashing in Barcelona.
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