Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo believes his side and their host for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg clash Roma both have equal chances of progressing to the next round of the competition.
Zinédine Zidane who makes his UEFA Champions League coaching debut in Real Madrid’s visit to Rome will hope to get off on a winning note but he faces a Roma side who also have a new man in charge. The renewed enthusiasm Spalletti has brought to Roma means they will fancy their chances of at least repeating the result of their last meeting with Spanish opposition at the Stadio Olimpico – the 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the group stage.
Ronaldo and his team-mates have also had a renewed sense of believe with the appointment of Zidane following Rafael Benitez’s sack but the Portuguese star who says “everything is going phenomenally” at Real Madrid believes the encounter is an open tie.
“I agree with what Luciano Spalletti said: both teams have a 50% of getting through this tie. We’ll see what happens on the pitch. We are working in the best way; the team have done very well in the last three weeks and everything is going phenomenally.
“The UEFA Champions League, however, is a different, important, competition, for the players and for the club. Tomorrow we will have a difficult match but as usual we will go onto the pitch to try to win.
“When you play for Real Madrid every game is important; we don’t care if it’s in the UEFA Champions League, the Liga or the Copa del Rey. I enjoy it and I try to help the team win every time. My target is always to do a good job regardless of the competition and the game.” Ronaldo is quoted as saying on UEFA.com
Both sides have met eight times in a UEFA competition with four wins for Madrid, three for Roma and one draw. Their most recent encounter in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 was in 2007/08 when Spalletti’s Roma recorded 2-1 home and away victories.
The clubs met most recently in a pre-season friendly in Melbourne on 18 July last year, Benítez’s first game as Madrid coach. Roma prevailed 7-6 on penalties after a 0-0 draw, Seydou Keita converting the winning kick after Morgan De Sanctis had saved from Lucas Vázquez.