Ghosts of Roma's past

Roma v Inter
Sunday, 19:30
Live on Eleven Sports 2
The mood around Roma and Inter is contrasting at the moment. Tuesday's defeat to Real Madrid was painless for Roma insofar as they had already qualified for the next round of the Champions League. But the team was whistled as it left the pitch by supporters who are unwilling to separate progress in Europe from a failure to meet expectation in Serie A.
Inter also lost in midweek condemned by a single mistake, which tarnished an otherwise valiant defensive performance against Spurs at Wembley. Qualification is no longer in their hands but the fans remains cautiously optimistic about making the knock-out stages. Inter should beat PSV at home while Tottenham still have to go to Barcelona who last lost a Champions League game at the Camp Nou in May 2013. Roma are altogether less serene.
The ghosts of reaching last year's semi-final and comfortably finishing in the top four continue to haunt them presumably in the image of Alisson, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan. It seems unlikely that the latter of those three spirits will visit them at the Olimpico on Sunday night. Nainggolan twisted his ankle and left the field injured in North London. But the sight of him and former coach Luciano Spalletti already nine points in front of them is a source of ire among Romanisti.
Bridging that gap will be difficult for Eusebio Di Francesco bearing in mind the mounting injury crisis afflicting the Wolves. Roma lost Stephan El Shaarawy on Tuesday and are already without Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Javier Pastore.
Focusing on the positives, a young Roma side, rich in potential, should have been leading by two goals against Madrid at half-time on Tuesday. The Giallorossi had the European champions on the ropes but wasteful finishing epitomised by Cengiz Ünder miss of the season candidate let them down. The fragility of the team is a concern. "Every time we concede we stop playing," di Francesco complained.
Inter won here against the run of play last season but have come on leaps and bounds since then. Nainggolan's absence isn't expected to hurt them. The Belgian has spent much of this season out injured already, prompting Spalletti to get creative and experiment successfully in repurposing Borja Valero and Joao Mario. Take the Nerazzurri @ 2.66.

Lyon push on

Lille v Lyon
Saturday, 16:00
Lille were knocked off the podium after last weekend's defeat in Nice and need to show whether or not they have the staying power to compete for a place in Europe.
Christophe Galtier's side are on four-game winless run in all competitions but their home form has been outstanding this season. The Dogues have dropped just two points at the Stade Pierre Mauroy and should draw confidence from that ahead of Lyon's visit on Saturday.
Lyon make the trip north after another impressive display in the Champions League against Manchester City. Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele continue to make names for themselves and scouts from Europe's elite are expected to be in attendance for this game to keep tabs on their progress.
Twice in front against City, the Gones went very close to doing the double over the English champions. It remains to be seen how much energy that effort has sapped from Bruno Genesio's side. He has a big decision to make on Nabil Fekir who seems to be suffering at the moment and perhaps could do with rest.
Unbeaten in eight in all competitions, Lyon still have enough about them to do some damage. Why not take an away win and both teams to score @ 4.30.

Madrid's problems aren't over

Real Madrid v Valencia
Saturday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sports 1
Tuesday's win in Rome, the fifth in six games under Santi Solari was far from convincing and suggests Madrid are not yet cured from this season's malaise. The goals scored by Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez owed more to jaw-dropping Roma mistakes than the sort of irresistible superiority we have associated with the reigning European champions over the last five years.
Luka Modric hasn't shone since the World Cup final, Casemiro is injured and Solari and Isco don't appear to see eye to eye. The Spanish playmaker wasn't even on the bench in Rome and has never started under Madrid's new coach. Twenty players have received more game-time than him over the last month.
Valencia meanwhile are improving under Marcelino and go to the Bernabeu on Saturday only three points behind Madrid. While the Murciélagos lost to Juventus in Turin on Tuesday and bade farewell to Champions League football, they were always in the game and showed how far they have come since September.
Ultimately only some magic from Cristiano Ronaldo in the build-up to Mario Mandzukic's goal stopped them from escaping the Allianz with a point. How Madrid could desperately use some of that.
Valencia have the best defence in La Liga and have players suited to the game plan that worked so well for Eibar in their 3-0 win over Madrid last weekend. Why not take them @2.96 on Double Chance.
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Inter @ 2.66 to beat Roma
Back Lyon Win & BTTS @ 4.30 v Lille
Back Valencia Double Chance @ 2.96 v Real Madrid

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