New Delhi: Roma host Bordeaux at the Stadio Olimpico, as the two sides do battle in the final matchday of the Champions League group stage for this season. Both teams have it all to play for this week, as Group A remains as open as any, heading into the last round of matches.
What: Champions League Group A, Matchday 6
Who: Roma (1st, 9pts) v Bordeaux (3rd, 7pts)
When: Tuesday 9 December, 2008 - 20:45 (CET)
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Roma Set Sights On Top Spot
On match day one of the competition the Giallorossi were humiliated by the Romanian debutants CFR Cluj, at the same venue that this week’s contest with Bordeaux takes place.
Just four matches later however, the Romans are sitting pretty atop of Group A, with nine points next to their name, one clear of Chelsea, who face the Romanians in London in the corresponding round of matches.
After such a dismal start to their domestic campaign, Luciano Spalletti’s men have dramatically turned their season around in recent times, as they have managed to win five successive encounters in all competitions, and six from their last seven, with their only blemish coming against Bologna in a 1-1 draw.
The capital club have moved up to 13th place in the Serie A standings, and with a game in hand against a struggling Sampdoria side, they could astonishingly find themselves just four points adrift of the fourth place Napoli, as they edge closer to that final Champions League qualifying position for next season.
The club’s convincing 3-1 victory away to Cluj two weeks ago will give them confidence heading into this clash with Bordeaux, a side that require will require all three points to progress further in this competition.
Their French opponents will be determined to give their all this week, and so the Giallorossi simply must be on top of their game if they are to claim victory and assure themselves of top spot in the process.
Roma have taken part in this competition in six of the past eight seasons, and they have progressed from the group stage in all but one of their previous campaigns. Despite this however the Romans have never finished on top of a group, and so they will be keen to change that fact this week at home, with a win over Bordeaux.
Spalletti’s men will certainly be aware of the significance of this particular contest, as although a draw will be enough to progress, it won’t be enough to finish in top spot. A first place finish will mean that the Romans will avoid the likes of Barcelona, and most likely Manchester United and Arsenal in the next stage.
A result is a necessity for the club, and having done so well to get in the position they are currently in, it would be extremely disappointing to see them not make the most of this brilliant opportunity.
Qualification On The Bordeaux Minds
After a disastrous start to their Champions League campaign, Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux have been given a tremendous opportunity to qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition.
Their campaign commenced with successive defeats to Chelsea and this week’s opponents Roma, results that left the French outfit languishing at the bottom of the group.
Back-to-back wins over Cluj and a well deserved 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea however, has given Blanc’s side a lifeline heading into the final round of matches in the group stage.
A win for the French club will confirm their progression, and if Cluj were to attain a result in London against Chelsea, then the French would astonishingly finish on top of the group, with a win against Roma.
Things seem to be on the up at Bordeaux at present, as not only have they managed to turn around their dismal Champions League campaign, however they have also started to improve in their domestic competition, as they have avoided defeat in five of their past six matches. As a result, they now find themselves in fourth place, just five points off the pace set by Lyon, who have had their problems in recent times.
Despite this however, lingering in the minds of the Bordeaux players will be their poor record against Italian opponents over the years. The French club has recorded three victories in 13 matches against Italian opponents, all of which have come at home. The other matches have produced three draws and seven defeats.
It will certainly be a tough ask for Blanc’s men to travel to Rome and defeat the Giallorossi, however if they wish to progress, then they will have no option but to do exactly that. Just as Cluj did on matchday one, Bordeaux will need a minor miracle to assure themselves of qualification through the group stage, against a much improved and determined Roma side this week.
December 6 v Chievo (A) WON 1-0
November 30 v Fiorentina (H) WON 1-0
November 26 v CFR Cluj (A) WON 3-1 (Champions League)
November 23 v Lecce (H) WON 3-0
November 16 v Lazio (H) WON 1-0
December 5 v Valenciennes (H) WON 2-1
November 29 v Sochaux (H) DREW 0-0
November 26 v Chelsea (H) DREW 1-1 (Champions League)
November 22 v Rennes (H) DREW 1-1
November 16 v Lyon (A) LOST 1-2
It’s no coincidence that the club’s form on the field has improved, as the injuries have steadily decreased. However, for this week’s contest with Bordeaux, Spalletti will have to do without several of his players, who will be forced to watch from the sidelines.
Heading this list is Alberto Aquilani, who will miss once again after picking up an injury prior to the Cluj match two weeks ago. He is joined on the sidelines by David Pizarro, who is struggling with a knee injury, as is Mirko Vucinic, who also remains in doubt for the contest. The young striker Stefano Okaka has been ruled out again with a slight muscular strain, whilst Max Tonetto is set to miss with an achilles problem.
Possible Starting XI: (4-3-2-1) – Doni; Cicinho, Juan, Mexes, Riise; Brighi, De Rossi, Perrotta; Menez, Baptista; Totti
Unfortunately for Blanc’s sake, he will also be without a number of players for this all important battle in Rome, none more so significant than his captain and number one goalkeeper Ulrich Rame, who is set to miss again as a result of a groin injury. Mathieu Valverde is set to start in goal for the visitors this week, despite his inconsistency between the sticks in recent times.
The club’s Brazilian forward Jussie is still out with a hamstring strain, whilst star midfielder Yoann Gourcuff has thankfully overcome a minor thigh strain, in time for this contest. Meanwhile, Pierre Ducasse (ankle), Henrique (calf) and Henri Saivet (foot) are all struggling to overcome their respective injuries, and will definitely miss this clash.
Possible Starting XI: (4-1-3-2) – Valverde; Jurietti, Diawara, Chalmé, Planus; Diarra; Fernando, Wendel, Gourcuff; Cavenaghi, Chamakh
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Roma – Francesco Totti: The Roman captain has well and truly overcome the knee injury that hampered the early stages of his 2008/09 season. He is quickly regaining his best form, as he has shown in recent weeks. Since his return from injury, ‘Il Capitano’ has been an integral part of the Roma revival, and he has managed some brilliant goals along the way, including a stunning free kick against Cluj two weeks ago. The stage is set for him this Tuesday to continue his good form, as he looks to lead his side to a first place finish in the group stage, for the first time ever in this competition.
Bordeaux– Fernando Cavenaghi: The French club’s Argentinean hitman has been in stunning form in the Ligue 1 this term, as he has managed to find the back of the net on nine occasions thus far. Having said this however, he is yet to open his account in the Champions League, and so he will be desperate to do so in Rome this week, in his club’s most important match of the season to date. He has scored in six of the club’s last nine league matches, and so the Giallorossi back four will certainly have to keep a close eye on his every movement this week, as he looms as a real threat for Bordeaux.
It is going to be a heated affair at the Stadio Olimpico this week, as both sides will come out firing from the word go. The visitors will be the more desperate early, so expect them to have a few early opportunities to break the deadlock. Expect a high scoring affair, with Bordeaux certainly finding a goal through somewhere, at some stage in the contest. The Giallorossi will be too strong on the night however, and will record their sixth successive victory in all competitions, with Totti bagging a brace for the capital club.
Roma 3-1 Bordeaux