Football

Barcelona not invincible: Monchi

But former Juventus midfielder Tacchinardi believes Roma 'stand no chance'

QUARTER-FINAL, 1ST LEG

BARCELONA v AS ROMA

(Tomorrow, 2.45am, Singtel TV Ch 111 & StarHub TV Ch 202)

AS Roma's sporting director Monchi believes his team's Champions League quarter-final opponents Barcelona are not invincible.

The Serie A side are massive underdogs going into tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) first-leg clash with the La Liga leaders at the Nou Camp.

The last time Roma faced Barca was in the Champions League group stage in 2015, when the Spanish side recorded a thumping 6-1 home win.

Barcelona have lost only three times this season, twice in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid and once in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against local rivals Espanyol - which they avenged by winning the second leg and progressing.

Not that that worries Monchi, the transfer guru who helped unearth countless gems during his long stint at Sevilla.

He told Catalan newspaper El Periodico: "Everyone knows there are no invincible teams, even Barcelona, even if they've only lost three of the 48 games they've played this season.

"When I play this game in my dreams, I see spaces, defects, opportunities for goals...

"I think at first they will be cautious. They won't want us to score a goal or two because that would make it tough for them.

"Of course I see Barcelona dominating, with Roma looking to put pressure on the Blaugrana and get it forward quickly when we get the ball."

Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco, meanwhile, believes his team have the mentality to "kill" Barca's possession-based flowing attacking game.

He told the club's in-house TV channel: "The idea is to kill the opponents' game, the mental aspect is important; you have to show that you want to dominate...

"If we're on our game we can take on anyone, every team you face are different but your mentality is the same."

However, former Champions League winner Alessio Tacchinardi believes the Italian team have no hope of beating Barca.

The former Juventus and Italy midfielder told Omnisport: "Roma stand no chance. This season's Barcelona is possibly one of the best of the last 20 years. Even their bench is deep.

"(Lionel) Messi is reaching amazing levels again and even to stop only him is not easy. Roma would need two perfect games.

"Like it or not, you park the bus. If you attack them and leave them 50 metres, they will kill you."

According to Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi is fit to start tomorrow after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla on Saturday.

He said: "We think he will be fine for Wednesday but we will see how he feels..."

Messi's effectiveness has been highlighted by Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, who reported that he has run the least metres per minute of any attacker in the Champions League this season.

Despite scoring six times and creating two assists in his eight matches, his 89.9m run per minute is the second least of any player in the tournament, with only Manchester United's Eric Bailly covering less ground.

Football