ROMA EYES PROGRESS TO KNOCKOUT STAGE
ROMA welcomes Bayern Munich to the Stadio Olimpico today knowing that victory could send it into the Champions League knockout stage.
A home victory and a draw in the other Group E game between Basle and CFR Cluj in Switzerland would see the Italians progress to second place with a game to spare. Bayern has already qualified, having won its opening four group games.
“We face a very important game,” Roma's captain, Francesco Totti, said. “This game and the match in Cluj will decide our qualification.”
Roma travels to Romania in a fortnight. The Italians, who lie second in the group, three points clear of Cluj and Basle, head into the encounter in buoyant mood. Last weekend's 2-0 triumph over Udinese, their fourth win in five league games, lifted the Giallorossi up to fifth place in Serie A.
“We have left behind us our disappointing start to the season,” Totti said. “We are on the right path and want to continue in the same manner.”
Bayern travels to the capital hoping to keep up its perfect record in the competition. The last season's Champions League runner-up won 4-0 in Cluj last time to seal its progress. Louis van Gaal's side heads to Rome on a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
However, last weekend's 1-1 draw at Bayern Leverkusen left it 14 points behind runaway leader, Borussia Dortmund, in the Bundesliga. Van Gaal said: “We've not lost for nine games now. We're playing better football, we're scoring goals, but it doesn't feel good when you fail to win.
“This was another match we could have won. I think we still have a chance of battling for the title, but Dortmund obviously have the best chance now.”
The German giant will has to overcome the absence of the suspended Bastian Schweinsteiger. Captain Mark van Bommel is out with a knee problem while Arjen Robben, Ivica Olic, Holger Badstuber and Miroslav Klose are all out injured.
The only good news for Van Gaal is that Argentine centre back, Martin Demichelis, and French forward, Franck Ribery, have recovered from their respective injuries and will feature against Roma.
Roma's coach, Claudio Ranieri, welcomes back Daniele De Rossi and John Arne Riise after both missed weekend game through injury.