Friday 21 October 2016

Roma eager to put on show against reigning champions Barcelona

Miralem Pjanic
Miralem Pjanic

When Lionel Messi and Barcelona open their Champions League title defence in Rome tonight, the Giallorossi will be eager to show they can no longer be pushed around by European powers.

Roma's humiliating 7-1 loss at home to Bayern Munich last season came seven years after a defeat by the same score to Manchester United. Roma were eliminated from the group stage a year ago.

"Barcelona is an immense club, the defending champion, they've won their first three Liga matches, but there's no point in saying great things about this squad," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said.

"We're going to play respectfully, but also with ambition."

Just like last season in the run-up to that Bayern match, Roma have had a strong start to Serie A, beating last season's Champions League runner-up Juventus 2-1, and showing strong potential with an impressive array of new players in Edin Dzeko, Iago Falque, Mohamed Salah, and Wojciech Szczesny.

But Garcia will be without key playmaker Miralem Pjanic due to a right calf strain.

That might open space for the 38-year-old Francesco Totti, whose next goal will be his 300th for Roma.

Bayer Leverkusen host Dundalk's conquerors BATE Borisov in the other Group E match.

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