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UCL Preview: In-form clubs Roma, Real Madrid battle in Italy and more


If recent form is anything to go off of, Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League matchup between Real Madrid and AS Roma is sure to be exciting.

Both sides enter the round of 16 on impressive runs in domestic play. Real Madrid has scored seemingly at will against Spanish La Liga competition, while Roma has fought its way into a European qualification spot in recent weeks with vital wins.

Wednesday’s other UCL game pits Belgian club KAA Gent against 2014-15 German Bundesliga runner-up Wolfsburg. Gent has struggled in recent weeks, losing its firm grip of first place on the current Belgian Pro League table, but Wolfsburg has experienced similar struggles this season. The German side has lost two of its last four games and sits eighth on the Bundesliga table.

Here is a closer look at Wednesday’s UCL matchups:

KAA Gent vs. VfL Wolfsburg, at GHELAMCO-arena, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2/ESPN Deportes TV

These two clubs made history by even reaching the knockout stage of the UCL, and both sides enter Wednesday’s match thinking they have the upper hand.

After the UCL draw in December, Gent goalkeeper Matz Sels was relieved to find out Wolfsburg was his club’s opposition, saying: “From all the possible opponents this maybe was the easiest one in theory.”

However, Gent has never beaten a German club at home in European competition. If Gent is to make history once again, midfielder Danijel Milicevic will likely be the one to create and distribute to goal-scorer Laurent Depoitre.

On the other side, Wolfsburg’s attackers have not been as threatening and consistent as they were last campaign. Bas Dost only has seven league goals to his name, while Max Kruse has scored five. Still, these two will have to carry the load if the German club wants to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in club history.

AS Roma vs. Real Madrid, at Stadio Olimpico, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes

Wednesday’s marquee UCL matchup features two sides in fine form but with injured stars.

Real Madrid, especially Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, has been on fire in recent weeks. Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last nine games and have outscored their opponents 38-10. Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have each scored 11 in that stretch.

Ronaldo recorded a record-breaking 11 UCL group stage goals last fall, and appears likely to add to that figure vs. Roma. In injury news for the Spanish La Liga club, Gareth Bale will miss Wednesday’s clash, but Marcelo trained with the team on Monday.

Roma — fourth on the Italian Serie A table — is currently on an impressive four-game win streak. Mohamed Salah has been an important part of the Italian side’s recent success, but Miralem Pjanić, Alessandro Florenzi, Edin Džeko and Stephan El Shaarawy may have to step up their games because Salah is dealing with a thigh injury that may rule him out.

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