FC Barcelona will play hosts to Serie A giants AS Roma at the Nou Camp in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie.
Barcelona go into this tie in stunning form. The hosts have lost only 1 game this entire season and haven’t lost a game since January. AS Roma have also picked up their form after suffering through a long win-less streak in January and come into this clash unbeaten in their last 5 games in all competitions.
In the Round of 16, Barcelona were drawn against Chelsea. The Catalans first played out a tense 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, before thrashing the Blues 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the second leg to win 4-1 on aggregate with Lionel Messi scoring a total of 3 goals across both legs.
AS Roma saw off Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16. They lost the first leg 2-1 at the Metalist Oblast Sports Complex, but they won the return leg at the Stadio Olimpico 1-0 and then qualified thanks to the away goals rule.
Tactics & Team News
Ernesto Valverde is expected to have a full strength squad available to him after Sergio Busquets returned to training. Nelson Semedo returned to the bench versus Sevilla after his hamstring injury, but it may still be too early for him to start a match.
The Catalan giants are expected to stick to their 4-4-2 formation, with Marc Andre Ter Stegen between the sticks. Sergi Roberto is expected to retain his place in the starting eleven and join Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba in defence.
Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique will certainly have their hands full with Edin Dzeko, while it should be interesting to see how Jordi Alba and Roberto handle the pace and flair of Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy on the wings.
Busquets is expected to slot into the center of midfield alongside Paulinho. Andres Iniesta is expected to start on the left of midfield with Ousmane Dembele is likely to start on the right ahead of Ivan Rakitic, while Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are almost certain to lead the line for the Blaugrana.
Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Marc Andre Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Busquets, Paulinho, Andres Iniesta; Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi
Winger Cengiz Under and rightback Rick Karsdorp are the only two players unavailable for this tie. However, Eusebio Di Francesco does have reason to rejoice after Radja Nainggolan and Lorenzo Pellegrini were both deemed fit for this match and have traveled with the squad.
The Giallorossi are expected to start in their usual 4-3-3 formation, with first choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker expected to start in goal. Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov are likely to start at right and left back respectively, with Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio starting as centre-backs.
Further upfront, Kevin Strootman should start alongside Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi in the midfield three, that will be responsible for keeping the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets as quiet as possible, while also dealing with the energy of Paulinho.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti are expected to start on the on the right and left flank of a front three and Edin Dzeko is almost certainly going to come back into the starting XI and the lead the line for the Giallorossi at the Nou Camp.
Probable Starting XI( 4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Alessandro Florenzi, Federico Fazio, Kostas Manolas, Aleksandar Kolarov; Kevin Strootman, Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan; Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko, Diego Perotti
- This will be the 5th time that Barcelona and AS Roma take each other on in the Champions League.
- Barcelona and AS Roma have both won 1 match each, with the other 2 fixtures ending in 1-1 draws.
- Luis Suarez is the fixture’s top scorer, scoring 3 goals in 2 games against the Giallorossi.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in the Champions League this season, winning 5 of their 8 games, while AS Roma have won 4 of their 8 games, losing 2 and drawing 2.
Player To Watch
FC Barcelona: Luis Suarez
The Uruguayan hitman is slowly returning to form after going through a minor slump in form over the course of the past few weeks. In their last game he helped them secure a draw against Sevilla with an 88th minute goal. Suarez has a good record against Roma, scoring 3 goals in 2 matches against them and the 31-year-old will certainly one to keep an eye on during this tie.
FC Barcelona 3-1 AS Roma
We expect the Blaugrana to emerge from this match victorious. They have failed to win at the Nou Camp on only 2 occasions this campaign and are unlikely to start against Roma.
The Italians certainly won’t make it easy on them and they have the attacking personnel needed to inflict some serious damage on Valverde’s men, but given Barcelona’s form this season and of course the Lionel Messi factor, it’ is difficult to see them come away from the Nou Camp with a victory.