The champions league is back as we enter the business portion of the competition in these quarterfinals. In what will be a two-legged match up between one of football’s most historical teams in history in Barcelona and the club from the capital of the world Roma. These two sides have faced off four times in the Champions League both coming in the group stage in both 2015-16 and 2002-2003. Barcelona has won two of the four meetings with Roma having a win in a draw in their head-to-head. Their last meeting included a 6-1 crushing loss to Barcelona Barça are unbeaten in 12 at home to Italian sides and
Messi has 12 goals in 19 matches against Serie A opposition so this will be a tough ask for Roma but in this competition anything is possible.
There is big news coming out of the Roma camp this morning. It was reported over the weekend that Roma’s best player Radja Nainggolan would miss the first leg of this match up after his thigh injury at Bologna this weekend. Then by surprise he was listed among Roma’s 23 players making the trip to the Camp Nou. Radja Nainggolan will be available as his injury is not as bad as it appeared which will be a big boost for the Italian side and if he is anywhere near his best he could cause big problems. However Roma will be without their Turkish youngster Cengiz Under who will be sidelined due to a knee injury. That factors largely into how Roma might lineup against Barcelona. In all likelihood we will see Dzeko lined up with Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy on each side. Roma’s Midfield could look a bit similar but there might be a judgments that are made as I would give Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gerson a start in that Central Midfield with Radja Nainggolan in the middle. In the defense there should be no real adjustments made Roma have to come out with their strongest defensive lineup as possible to give protection to there world class goalkeeper Alison they want to limit the amount of chances they will have on a one-on-one situations epsically with Messi on the other side. Barcelona is a massive team a big Club who have talent throughout the squad so this may not apply but Roma’s away form is tremendous despite coming off a disappointing draw over the weekend In the league Roma are unbeaten in 23 of 24 away matches. I don’t know if that’s going to be a big difference maker but they know how to play well away from their own ground. Roma’s key player for me in this match will be Edin Dzeko and in this first leg away goals will matter with under out of the line-up Dzeko will be there big Target man for this game Getting a goal will depend on how he plays. Nainggolan and Kolarov will both play roles in trying to facilitate chances into Dzeko they are the Kingpins of Roma’s fluidity the bottom line is Roma needs away goals their defense needs to limit as many goals as possible from Barcelona. Roma are in really good form despite the hiccup over the weekend but Barcelona is not a fish there a great white shark So this was always going to be tough.
I don’t really need to tell you how good Barcelona is they are one of the favorites to win the entire competition they’re on par with Bayern Munich as the most likely winners of the Champions League. This Barcelona team has not lost a game in the league let me say that again they are unbeaten in League Play they still have not lost one game in La Liga. This is a very physically and mentally tough team that probably have an 85% chance of qualifying to the semi-finals. Sergio Busquets the key component in the boss of Midfield will be back from injury but I doubt he will be at 100% even if he’s not Barcelona can still be extremely effective. And the world the best player Leo Messi has picked up a knock as well But he will definitely play this match. even if it’s a 50% Messi he still is unplayable and is Unstoppable. Not to mention this team has Luis Suarez as well who hasn’t been his best this season but is definitely capable of scoring goals. However I believe the Barcelona’s key player in this matchup is not Leo Messi or Luis Suarez I believe it is Ousmane Dembele. I think he’s been harshly criticized this season he hasn’t done as well as people expected of him but the reason he’s a key player is if he has a really great game if he’s playing to his potential Barcelona’s front 3 will be unstoppable if Dembele is at his very best there could be mutually no answer for anything Barcelona comes with. Just like Roma Barcelona suffered a dropped point over the weekend but they remain an excellent form and they certainly want to put on a show in front of their home fans to get important strides towards the semi-finals. I don’t know how they will line up but I sure you they will be dangerous from Back to Front.
Last Meeting: 6-1 Barcelona 11/24/15
Barcelona will be heavy favorites in this first leg they have an extremely high probability of qualifying. They have a more talented team a stronger team and a team with more experience they have everything that’s necessary to win a European match up like this. However they can’t play A Dangerous Game I would say is important that I to not underestimate Roma because Roma on their day can be an excellent football team and we’ve seen them do unthinkable things. Roma won the group of death during the group stage no one expected them to do that they went through a group that featured Athletico Madrid and Chelsea. Then in the round of 16 against Shakhtar trailing in the first leg no one expected them to go through. Everyone has been counting them out from the very beginning of the Champions League so Barcelona can’t not make the same mistake they have to take Roma as a serious Contender because if they treat it like just a normal game Roma could shock the world. For Barcelona it’s very simple take the game seriously don’t beat yourself Because they have all the talent in the world to get through. For Roma they must get a goalless draw or an away goal to do that they might have to park the bus in this game to get out of here unscaved that’s not in Eusebio Di Francesco’s philosophy so I do not know if they will do it but they have to limit goals because they do not want to go into the second leg of this game two goals down because as far as I’m concerned If that happens it will be already over. The goal keeper match will be crucial as well with Ter Stegen and Alisson they are two of the worlds best on the biggest stage in the world. For Roma to pull off the unthinkable need superb defending and an unreal performance from Alisson for them to stand a chance they need to get out of here with a very close game this will be incredibly difficult and I don’t think anyone really thinks they can stop the mighty Barcelona but in this competition anything can happen.
Roma’s Projected starting 11 4-3-3
GK: Alisson Becker
DEF: Alex Kolarov, Federico Fazio, Kostas Manolas, Alexandro Florenzi
DEF: Lorenzo Pellegrini, Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan
Front Three: Diego Perotti, Stephen El Shaarawy , Edin Dzeko
Manager: Eusebio Di Francesco
Barcelona’s Projected starting 11 4-3-3
GK: Ter Stegen
DEF: Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Roberto
MID:Iniesta, Rakitic, Paulinho
Front Three: Messi, Suarez , Dembele
Manager: Ernesto Valverde
Roma’s Edin Dzeko
Barcelona’s Osama Dembele
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Kickoff: 1:45PM (USA) 7:45PM (ENG), 8:45PM (ITA)
TV Broadcast: ESPN