Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
Italy’s four sides stand on the verge of a fantastic Champions League group stage campaign. There are only two rounds of games left to play in Europe, and all four Italian sides are set to make the last round. They have to come through another difficult round of games in midweek. However, Serie A could well be the only league to make up a quarter of the last 16 draw.
Juventus and Roma were always expected to make it this far. However, the much-criticised move to hand Italy a fourth place looks to be a masterstroke. All of the sides have raised their game for this competition, and they’re going to have to do the same once again to book a spot in the next round. We’ve ran through our latest Champions League predictions and all of the big news to run through each of the four big games facing the Italian teams.
Will Roma Save EDF?
This is battle between two sides who are coming up short domestically, and they are each out of the top four. Real Madrid’s poor season got worse with a 3-0 drubbing at Eibar at the weekend. Now they head to Roma, knowing that a defeat would leave them second in the group. Can the defending champions afford that blow after a torrid campaign so far?
Roma have met their minimum aim, as they’re in the frame for the last 16. Two wins over CSKA have put them in the running for the next round, and a point at home on Tuesday confirms their place in the next round. It would also continue some great form in Europe. We looked at their seven-game winning run at home in this competition in our betting preview for this game. That’s something Real should certainly fear. After the European champions lost away in Moscow, they’re there for the taking when they visit the Italian capital. The big question is, can Di Francesco rise to the occasion and keep his job?
Given how he guided his side to big results over Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool last term, Roma should start with confidence here. First place is up for grabs, and that’s something which could really make up for Roma’s failings this season.
Devil on Juve’s Shoulder
However, following a defeat to Manchester United, Juventus need to bounce back on Tuesday. Not only do they need a victory to make the last 16, but they need to keep their hopes of topping the group alive. Their loss in Turin earlier this month has made things a little trickier for the Italian champions. Having conceded twice against the Red Devils, Jose Mourinho’s side now hold the upper hand in the head to head. With just two points between them, Juve can’t afford a slip this late in the game.
Regardless of how they lost to United, Juve will walk away happy if they top the group. They would have loved to do it with a game to spare, to have a chance to rotate, as they look to continue their domestic dominance. However, getting over the line is the main focus, and we can’t see any problems for them against the mid-table visitors.
Inter Bound for Wembley
The Nerazzurri claimed a point at home to Barca last time out, and they managed to see off Spurs at San Siro. However, the key is that this group will come down to head to head record if they’re level on points, so Inter need a decent result here. Obviously, that means a draw will take them through. However, a 1-0 defeat, or a loss by two goals or more, puts Spurs at an advantage. That leaves Inter in a tricky position; go for broke after some away goals or play for a point?
It’s going to be a huge clash in this group, but everything is likely to come down to the final day. Containing Spurs is going to be a huge ask for this Inter side, and their win over Chelsea at the weekend showed what they can do on their day. Spurs are likely to make the most of home advantage in this one, which sets up a dramatic finale in December.
Napoli Need Reds Favour
The group which remains the hardest to call is Group C, with Napoli narrowly leading the way. Both Liverpool and PSG trail them, and now everything has been opened up by Red Star. The Serbians beat Liverpool earlier this month, meaning there are only two points between bottom and top. It’s a four-way tussle for the next round, which only makes things more difficult for Napoli on Wednesday night.
The Partenopei host Red Star, aiming to put the Serbians out of the running once again. Napoli managed a point home and away to PSG in their last two games, and that’s left them a point clear at the top. Meanwhile, there will be nervous glances to the score at the Parc Des Princes, where Liverpool are visiting the French champions. Could Carlo Ancelotti drag his side into the next round on Wednesday night?
It’s possible. A win for Napoli twinned with PSG failing to win puts them through. With a daunting finale at Anfield, the Italians will want to book their place in the next round this week. However, they could be made to wait, with PSG in fine form at home in Europe. While it’s not ideal for the Naples faithful, seeing this group go down to the wire is sure to be entertaining for everyone else.
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