18th of September 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Real Madrid kick off their first Champions League campaign since the departure of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with a tricky match as they host Italian Serie A side Roma at Santiago Bernabeu on Monday. The two teams have last met in the same competition in 2016, but that time the clash was in the round of sixteen and Real Madrid won both matches 2-0. The last time AS Roma defeated Real Madrid was in 2008, and overall the Italians have won three of the ten direct matches so far.
Real Madrid seem to be adjusting very well to life without Cristiano Ronaldo, they did start the season with a 4-2 extra-time defeat against rivals Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup, but then recovered with three consecutive wins in LaLiga. However, last weekend they had their first major setback of the campaign as they got held to a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Defender Jesus Vallejo is the only injury concern for the home side, head coach Julen Lopetegui is expected to field his best eleven.
Roma had a very bumpy start to the season, their fans were expecting a lot better after last season's exploits in the Champions League. They have won just one of their four Serie A matches since the start of the campaign, and conceded no less than seven goals in the last three matches, a 2-1 defeat at AC Milan, a 3-3 draw at home against Atalanta and a 2-2 home draw against Chievo last week. New signing Javier Pastore is the only injury doubt for head coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Real Madrid: Courtois - Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo - Modric, Casemiro, Kroos - Bale, Benzema, Asensio
Roma: Olsen - Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov - De Rossi, Nzonzi, Pellegrini - Under, Dzeko, El Shaarawy
My prediction: Real Madrid to win 2-1, Roma have not impressed this season but they will surely up their game in the Champions League and make it difficult for the Blancos.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Real Madrid win - 1.36
Draw - 5.75
Roma win - 8.50
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