Real have one eye on Ajax, other on Clasico
The impending clash with La Liga title rivals Barcelona provides a distracting backdrop for Real Madrid who face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.sports Updated: Nov 23, 2010 00:25 IST
The impending clash with La Liga title rivals Barcelona provides a distracting backdrop for Real Madrid who face Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The nine-times European champions are already assured of a place in the last 16 and need only a point to secure first place in Group G while the buildup to next Monday's 'clasico' against second-placed Barca is already in full swing. The La Liga leaders will travel to the Nou Camp with their one-point advantage intact after a 5-1 battering of Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain and Germany midfielder Sami Khedira have already been ruled out of the trip with back and hamstring problems respectively, which could see Karim Benzema and Lassana Diarra step up from the bench.
Roma awaits Bayern
Milan: AS Roma are making a habit of bursting into form after slow starts to campaigns so already-qualified Bayern Munich better watch out in Tuesday's penultimate Champions League group stage clash.
Claudio Ranieri's side were easily swept aside 2-0 by last season's runners-up in Germany in September but much has changed since the Group E opener.
Roma were all over the place at the beginning of the season. However, they are on a run of seven unbeaten games in all competitions and have surged up Serie A.
Bayern are already through but the carrot of securing top spot with a point and a potentially easier first knockout round opponent in February means Louis van Gaal's side will be taking the game seriously. They travel without captain Mark van Bommel with the Dutchman still nursing a knee injury but Franck Ribery, who played 29 minutes in their 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, may get his first start since his injury in September.
Also, after suffering a domestic dose of the jitters, Chelsea and London rivals Arsenal will seek solace in strong Champions League form on Tuesday.
Chelsea are at least already assured of their passage to the last 16 ahead of a home encounter with Zilina whereas Arsenal must put points on the board at Portugal's Sporting Braga if they are to avoid throwing away their strong start in Group H. Braga will have nine points if they can spike the Gunners at home.