Defending Champions FC Barcelona take on Italian outfit AS Roma in their first group stage encounter of the 2015-16 Champions League and we present to you the preview of the Group E match.
The match marks a return for the Catalan manager Luis Enrique, his first visit back to the Stadio Olimpico since his spell in charge in the Italian capital and also a repeat of the recent friendly exhibition between the two sides held in August at the Nou Camp where the Treble winners gave the side from Italian capital an undressing, defeating them comfortably 3-0.
Going back a previous season, Roma were drawn into the “Group of Death” and were eventually knocked out by the German Champions Bayern Munich and the then English Champions Manchester City, both of whom later succumbed to the Blaugrana juggernaut in the Round of 16 and Semi Final rounds.
The Catalans once again start the tournament as the favorites to win the title given the unprecedented feat they achieved last year by winning their second treble in the debut season for Luis Enrique- a feat never achieved in the history of the game.
Barcelona won the Best club in Europe award and Luis Enrique has been recently ranked as the best manager currently in world football in the recent FIFA rankings.
Barcelona- The Blaugranas will be missing the services of their veteran right back Dani Alves who is still recovering from an injury while Claudio Bravo is expected to sit out for around four weeks due to an injury he faced in a training session. Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal continue to sit out due to the imposed transfer ban.
The star MSN trio will be starting for the first time for the Catalans in the current season as Brazilian captain Neymar missed the starting two Liga matches due to mumps. When he eventually returned to the squad in the game against Atletico, Lionel Messi was benched as the four time Ballon d’Or winner’s girl-friend had given birth to their second children which caused the Argentine forward to travel a lot, missing a considerable training time. However the 28-year-old came off the bench to score the winning goal against Atletico three days back just giving again a glimpse of what he is capable of.
AS Roma – As for the Rudi Garcia’s side, they face a major blow given the Bosnian midfield maestro, Miralem Pjanic, is injured and will not be able to feature in tomorrow’s match. Similar is the case for Kevin Strootman who is also sidelined, but apart from these two absentees, Giallorossi have their full squad at their disposal.
However, club’s gaffer Rudi Garcia still has a dilemma of whether to go with the usual 4-3-3 or a more pragmatic 4-2-3-1.
The Ten Sports network continues to retain the rights for the broadcast of Champions League in India and viewers can view the Roma vs Barcelona match on Ten Action at 12:15 am.
FC Barcelona (4-3-3) – Ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Sergi Roberto; Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquests, Ivan Rakitic; Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi.
AS Roma (4-3-2-1) – Szczesny; Torosidis, Manolas, Castan, Digne; De Rossi, Nainggolan, Keita; Salah, Dzeko, Gervinho.
The South American triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scores goals like the US Mint prints money and it looks highly likely that at least one of the three will get his name to the score sheet and the difference in the individual class of the personnel between the two team should be enough for the Catalans to put up another dominant display as the one they displayed in the Joan Gamper trophy held at the Camp Nou back in August.
2-0 win for Barcelona.