Roma v Barcelona: Giallorossi can provide a night to remember
Barcelona hold a 4-1 advantage heading into the quarter-final second leg. La Liga's champions-elect have lost just one game in all competitions this season. In five previous meetings against Roma, the Catalans have tasted defeat only once. The Giallorossi find themselves in a steep valley. They have a mountain to climb on Tuesday night.
To progress to the semi-final stage, Roma must win by at least three clear goals. The Italians face a mammoth task against a team which has mesmerized opponents throughout this campaign. Still, it's not impossible. The Giallorossi could do the unthinkable.
Everyone expects Barcelona to coast to victory. Having lifted their third European crown at the Stadio Olimpico in 2008-09, Blaugrana are used to winning in Rome. However, the last time both sides met at this venue, Roma romped to a 3-0 victory. A repeat scoreline would see the Italians advance.
The Giallorossi haven’t made a fortress of the Stadio Olimpico this season – seven defeats, including last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Fiorentina. The poor home form has marred their season, leaving them fourth in Serie A, 21 points off leaders Juventus; level with third-placed Lazio and one point better than Inter Milan. Roma could easily miss out on Champions League football next season. They can rejuvenate their campaign with a historic performance against the competition's favourites, though.
Three goals are all it takes. However, there's then the herculean task of keeping a clean sheet against an attack spearheaded by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Roma's centre-back pairing, Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas, must form an impenetrable wall. The latter put through his own goal at the Camp Nou last week. A repeat performance will end any hope of a remarkable turnaround.
Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco said his side must play at their “best” to achieve the “unthinkable” and eliminate Barca.
Other than Cengiz Under and Diego Perotti, who are both doubts, Di Francesco has a fully fit squad to choose from. After missing the first leg, swashbuckling midfielder Radja Nainggolan is back in contention. The Belgian's presence will provide a big boost to Roma.
Ernesto Valverde arrives in Rome with his guns fully loaded. His players are all fit, bar full-back Lucas Digne. Although the Spanish gaffer remains wary of a Roma fightback, he can rest a few key players and still get a positive result. That could be risky though.
All eyes on Roma
Champions League nights are made for excitement and anticipation. The Roma/Barcelona clash will deliver on both accounts. Down by three goals before a ball is kicked, the Giallrossi have little choice but to attack their efficient visitors. The Stadio Olimpico is set to host an exciting, perhaps memorable encounter
All eyes are peeled. If Roma score first, then we’re in for an interesting contest. Unlikely Champions League comebacks have occurred in recent times. Barca’s triumph at the Camp Nou against Paris Saint-Germain last season springs to mind. Liverpool produced something similar in the 2005 final against AC Milan. We now look to the Giallorossi.