Roma v Real Madrid Tuesday, 20:00 Live on BT Sport ESPN
Mixed season for Roma
Their Champions League campaign began with a humbling defeat - 3-0 at the Bernabéu - but Roma have stabilised in admirable fashion since than and come into the return fixture level on points with their visitors. With CSKA Moscow five points down, they would still fancy their chances of progressing even if they lost on Tuesday night, which should take a little of the pressure off.
The way the season is shaping up, the Champions League is proving a welcome distraction from an underwhelming domestic campaign. With 13 games played in Serie A, the Giallorossi are already 18 points adrift of Juventus - and 10 behind second-placed Napoli. With Inter, Milan and Lazio all going well, they face a battle to get back into Europe at all next term.
Morale, understandably, isn't the best, and manager Eusebio Di Francesco could not hide his disgust at the 1-0 reversal at Udinese at the weekend. "We had no desire to win," he fumed. "It is not a matter of luck, but of a lack of desire." He will be hoping for a reaction here, and can be expected to recall Edin Džeko and Cengiz Ünder, both of whom were rested in Udine.
Madrid reeling after Eibar loss
Four games, four wins, 15 goals scored. This management lark is pretty easy, right, Santiago Solari? Erm, no actually. A trip to Eibar appeared to hold roughly as much peril as a candy-floss convention, yet the Basques sent Real Madrid home with their tails between their legs. A side that had never beaten Real, Barcelona or Atlético Madrid in the league won, and won handsomely.
Back to square one for Madrid, then? It's certainly clear that progress will not come easily, and will require more than just a change of personnel in the dugout. There are structural issues there, and a squad that needs attention, be it in January or next summer. Already, this feels like a season lost, albeit they're still in the Champions League and only six points off the pace in La Liga.
Changes are likely given how things went on Saturday. Fit-again Dani Carvajal should reinforce the defence, while Isco and Lucas Vázquez will be both be hoping for startsgiven how poorly Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos performed at Ipurua.
Giallorossi a force at home
Meetings between these teams have been one-sided lately: Roma have lost the last three, failing to score in that run. Madrid have also won on four of their last five visits to the Stadio Olimpico (all Champions League, and are rated as 2.18 favourites to record maximum points here.
Yet in a game between two hit-and-miss sides, there is reason for Roma to be hopeful. They've won their last seven Champions League home games for a start, keeping a clean sheet in six of them; Di Francesco knows how to get them going in front of their own fans.
Madrid have already lost five times away from home this season, and while the Italians might not quite be reliable enough to back them outright, they look a good pick on the Asian handicap. Roma +0.5 is a backable 1.81.
Edin in the right direction
Roma striker Džeko has been directly involved in more Champions League goals than any other player in the competition this season (five goals, two assists) and should be full of energy after playing just 19 minutes at the weekend. He should be available at around 2.50to net anytime, which seems like value against a Madrid defence that always gives up chances.