ROME, Italy, Sporting Alert – Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema all start for Real Madrid in a very powerful attack against Roma in the Champions League round of 16 first leg at Olimpico.
Ronaldo and Rodriguez will play on either side of Benzema, who will play through the middle for the Spanish side which is without Gareth Bale through injury and didn’t travel with his teammates.
Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco will play in the midfield, with Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal making up the backline.
Keylor Navas will start in goal, as Zinedine Zidane makes his Champions League debut as head coach of Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko, Francesco Totti, Maicon and Daniele De Rossi are all on the bench to start this game for Roma which will look to take an advantage from the first leg.
Talented youngster Stephan El Shaarawy will be making his Champions League debut in a Roma shirt and he leads the attacking line. The former AC Milan forward will play alongside Mohamed Salah and Diego Perotti, who is also making his European debut for the club
Miralem Pjanic heads things up in midfield and will be one of the players to keep an eye on for the home side, as on his day, the Bosnian has the ability to rip any defense apart.
Starting in the midfield on Wednesday as well are William Vainqueur and Radja Nainggolan, while Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rudiger and Lucas Digne make up the back four.
On-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny starts between the sticks.
Real Madrid enter today’s Champions League matchup with Roma seeking their first win against Italian sides on the road in a long period.
The Spanish La Liga side has not won against Italian clubs in their last eight away matches — drawing four and losing the next four.
Roma v Real Madrid
Roma XI: Szczesny, Florenzi, Manolas, Rudiger, Digne, Pjanic, Vainqueur, Nainggolan, El Shaarawy, Salah, Perotti
Real Madrid XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Rodriguez, Ronaldo, Benzema.