It hasn't been easy for Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid to win away from the Santiago Bernabéu. They have visited Betis and Granada since the Frenchman took over and they drew the first match 1-1 while getting a late win in the second thanks to a screamer scored by Luka Modric.
Tonight, they'll have to deal with a much better team than those two in a competition that should motivate each and every player on the roster as it is arguably the most feasible trophy this season considering Barcelona's big lead in the Liga BBVA table. It's the perfect time for Zidane and his men to make a statement and prove they are ready to compete for the European competition.
It will not be that easy to take care of Roma, however. The Italian side did not start the season in great form and decided to sack coach Rudi Garcia and replace him with Spalletti. They are now sitting fourth in the Serie A table and they have a very dangerous attacking squad that could be problematic. It's true that their defensive line might not be solid enough to contain Real's efforts upfront, and goalkeeper Szczesny has a history of combining good displays between the sticks with some shaky performances.
Their midfield line with De Rossi, Nainggolan and Pjanic is a very solid one. De Rossi is a great positional defender while Nainggolan will never stop pressing the opposition with Pjanic providing the quality. Kroos, Modric and Isco will need to be careful to prevent turning the ball over and conceding some counterattacking chances for Roma off those turnovers.
Salah and El Shaarawy are fast and skilled enough to be a problem for Real's defensive line. Marcelo and Carvajal should try to make them work defensively in order to keep them away from Real's own box, but they will surely try to catch Madrid's fullbacks out of position quite often. Ramos and Varane should take care of Edin Dzeko's aerial game, although that's something Varane usually struggles with. Real Madrid will need to defend Roma's crosses efficiently because that will surely be in their gameplan with the quick wingers and the tall striker in the box.
Zinedine Zidane all but confirmed Marcelo's return to the Starting XI after dislocating his shoulder a week ago. It seems that the Brazilian defender has already recovered from that injury although it could be risky to give him minutes considering he's the only pure left-back in this roster. Isco will almost surely return to the starting XI even though Kovacic completed a very good performance against Athletic last Saturday.
Other than that, no rotations are expected.
AS Roma projected XI: Szczesny, Florenzi, Manolas, Rudiger, Digne, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Pjanic, Salah, El Shaarawy, Dzeko.
Real Madrid projected XI: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, James, Ronaldo, Benzema.
Prediction: AS Roma 0-2 Real Madrid.
Keys for tonight: Real need to defend Roma's crosses efficiently. With El Shaarawy and Salah on the wings + Dzeko, they must be careful.— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) February 17, 2016
Kroos, Modric and Isco have to take care of the ball. Nainggolan & De Rossi know how to recover the ball and create counterattacking chances— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) February 17, 2016