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Los Blancos begin their title defense against Roma
- Updated: September 19, 2018
The current Real Madrid side has done something that no other team has done in the past or can do in the future as they won the UEFA Champions League as many as three times in the last three years. Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid were invincibles in the tournament as they conquered every single team they faced in the tournament under the Frenchman.
Julen Lopeteugi's Real Madrid's challenge will be qualifying to the semi-finals, if not win the Champions League title yet again. The Spaniard will make his UEFA Champions League debut as the Real Madrid manager when the 13-time champions host Italian side AS Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu in their first European night of the season.
This will also be the first time since the start of 2009-10 season that Real Madrid will go into the Champions League without Portuguese international Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the leading goal-scorer in the history of the tournament.
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Date: September 19, 2018
Time: 2100 local, 2000 BST, 0030 IST (September 20)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers, Netherlands
In India, the match will be telecasted Live on Sony Sports Network while the people in the UK can watch it on BT Sports 2.
Real Madrid and Roma have faced each other six times in the Champions League and the Spanish giants have won four of those matches while Roma got the better of their opponents twice.
The last time these two faced each other in the group stage was in 2004 and Madrid came out victorious on both the occasions. Roma's success against Madrid came in 2008 when they knocked Raul and co. out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by beating them 2-1 in both the legs.
Real Madrid are off to a good start in the LaLiga as they won their first three matches and were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao at San Mames in the fourth match of the season. Real Madrid are playing as a unit after a long time and look threatening with their style of play under Lopeteugi.
They are currently second in LaLiga with 10 points from their first four matches. Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have done a majority of the scoring so far with captain Sergio Ramos as the trio has scored 10 goals between them so far. Marco Asensio is enjoying a purple patch and he will look to continue it in the Champions League as well.
Roma, on the other hand, are out of form, hovering in mid-table in Serie A after winning only one game out of four since the start of the season. They are ninth in the table with five points from four games this season. Eusebio Di Francesco will hope that his team's fortunes will change in the Champions League
None of the players in the Real Madrid barring Jesus Vallejo are suffering from any injuries prior to this clash. It will be interesting to see who gets the nod in front of the goal as Thibaut Courtois has been preferred to Keylor Navas in the league.
It is likely that Real Madrid's new number 7, Mariano Diaz will be a part of their game against AS Roma. Luka Modric, who looked completely out of sorts and tired against Bilbao over the weekend, could be rested for this match, which is likely to be the case with one of the three forwards.
Eusebio di Francesco appears to have a full-strength side and it is likely he will opt for a similar line-up to the team that faced Chievo.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal; Casemiro, Kroos, Isco; Asensio, Benzema, Mariano Diaz.
AS Roma: Olsen; Florenzi, Manolas, Juan Jesus, Kolarov; Pellegrini, N'Zonzi, Cristante; Under, Edin Dzeko, El Shaarawy.
Prediction: On form, Real Madrid are way better of AS Roma and Lopeteugi's men will hope to get their UEFA Champions League campaign post-Cristiano Ronaldo to a successful start. It will be wise to put the money on the three-time defending champions to come out victorious against AS Roma.