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Totti: We’ll go for it

Resurgent Roma in form prior to Bayern clash

AS Roma, the runners-up in Italy’s Serie A last term, have warmed up nicely for Tuesday evening’s Champions League meeting with Bayern at Satdio Olimpico with a 2-0 win over Udinese on Saturday. Roma thus continued their rapid recovery from a poor start to the domestic campaign, and are now up to fourth in the standings on 22 points.

Jérémy Ménez (24) and Marco Borriello (56) scored the goals in a morale-boosting success ahead of Bayern’s midweek visit. The club from the capital were in crisis not much more than a month ago, but have impressively fought their way out of trouble. “What great goals – a tremendous result,” enthused Rome-based sports paper Corriere dello Sport on Sunday, as coach Claudio Ranieri’s side extended their unbeaten league run to seven games.

Doubts dispelled

“We’re back in the title race, despite our poor start,” Ranieri commented. The critics who said iconic skipper Francesco Totti was too old have been silenced, and Ranieri’s position is also once again safe after a barrage of criticism in the early autumn.

With his men in the driving seat against Udine, the coach withdrew his goalscorers Ménez and Borriello in the second half, allowing them to conserve energy ahead of the meeting with Munich. It was not all plain sailing, as Nicolas Burdisso was dismissed on 80 minutes, and Udine striker Denis had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside, but Roma held firm to the end.

High tempo from the off

For Tuesday’s encounter, Ranieri will stick to his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation, with Totti and Boriello up front, and the inventive and technically able Ménez operating behind them. Roma’s defence has also tightened up considerably with only four goals against in their last seven league matches, compared to 11 in the six games before that.

Shortly after the final whistle against Udine, Totti issued a rallying call for the midweek meeting with Munich: “Maximum pace from the first minute to the last.” A win would take Roma to within three points of Bayern, “and then we’d have a great chance of making the knockout round,” Totti said. In that event, and should FC Basel and CFR Cluj draw the parallel fixture, the Italians would be sure of their last sixteen berth on Tuesday.