A look at FC Barcelona's away form suggests goals are in store against Group B rivals AS Roma.
On the face of it, the advantage would now seem to be with AS Roma in Group B, as they receive FC Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico after last week's draw between the two sides, but with the Spanish club's knack of winning away from home in the UEFA Champions League nothing can be taken for granted.
Three straight draws
Both teams' star strikers - Roma's Gabriel Batistuta and Barcelona's Rivaldo - were held back at the weekend in readiness for this game, which promises to be a cracker. It should be more open than last week's meeting at the Camp Nou, when Roma played a counter-attacking game. Not that Fabio Capello, the Roma head coach, is likely to throw caution to the wind this time, but his team do need to win after three consecutive draws, which could open the door for Barcelona, the only side in the group to have won a game so far.
Three times this season in the competition Carles Rexach's side have managed to win on their travels: at Fenerbahçe SK (3-0), Olympique Lyonnais (3-2) and Liverpool FC (3-1). Whatever the outcome, a 0-0 draw looks unlikely, given Barcelona's record. The only time the Spanish club have played out a goalless draw in this competition was 60 games ago in their very first Champions League tie. Indeed, their last two visits to Italy have resulted in 3-3 draws, against AC Fiorentina and Milan AC.
'Barcelona aren't unbeatable'
Capello's side are not short of confidence, though. Since their disappointing home draw against Liverpool on Matchday 8 they have gone 12 games unbeaten, and last week's draw in the Catalan capital has only strengthened their self-belief. "Roma are among the strongest sides in the Champions League and we know it, we've shown it by picking up away draws, not just with Barcelona last week but also with Real Madrid [CF] in the first phase," said Roma's Marco Delvecchio, who nowadays operates as a midfielder. "It will be very difficult for us but we realised at the Camp Nou that Barcelona are certainly not unbeatable."
Delvecchio's chances of playing depend on the Brazilian Emerson's ability to recover from an ankle injury picked up in the 1-0 win against AC Perugia last Saturday evening, when Roma went joint top of Serie A with Internazionale FC. Vincenzo Montella scored the only goal of the game, his first of the season following an injury last autumn. However, Batistuta is expected to reclaim his place up front against Barcelona, with Francesco Totti in close support.
Beaten by Valencia
The Roma fans at the Stadio Olimpico gave Vincent Candela an ovation prior to kick-off, in a show of appreciation for the French midfielder despite the mistake which enabled Patrick Kluivert to steal in for a late equaliser at the Camp Nou. Meanwhile, in the Primera División, Barcelona lost 2-0 away to Valencia CF. Without Rivaldo, who pulled a thigh muscle against Roma, they registered just one shot on target throughout the game and badly need the incomparable Brazilian back for this game.
First visit to Rome
The last time he played in Italy he scored a hat-trick. Somewhat surprisingly, this will be the Spanish club's first visit to the Stadio Olimpico. They were due to go there in the 1975/76 season for a UEFA Cup tie against S.S. Lazio, but the Roman club refused to play the home leg because of a dispute.