Champions League: Barca boss Luis Enrique returns for Roma reckoning
As Group E opponents Roma and Barcelona (odds-on at 4/6 with Coral to win) prepare for battle at the Stadio Olimpico, a reunion and two potential player milestones are in the offing for this tasty tussle.
Last time the Giallorossi welcomed Barca to the Eternal City back in 2002 the Romans ran riot with a 3-0 rout. Though that defeated Catalan team was blessed with talent, including a certain Luis Enrique toiling in midfield, the Romans face an entirely different prospect against the current crop from Catalonia.
Treble-winning Nou Camp coach Enrique returns to Roma, where he was boss for a brief spell back in 2011-12 but failed to guide his then-side to a Champions League finish, now hoping for better luck in the Italian capital.
“What happened at Roma made me a better coach. I have great memories, I’d have liked to have finished higher but it was a very positive year,” Enrique told press in the run-up to the game.
This match is not just about the Barca boss, however, as Lionel Messi, lethal last term in Europe, awaits his 100th Champions League appearance for the club.
Having notched the vital winner against Atletico Madrid last time out, the Argentine attacker is available in a celebratory match special at 9/2 to score two or more on his potential continental century, though punters should be aware the maximum stake is £20.
All of Barcelona’s big-guns should be out in force for this one, with fellow forward Luis Suarez growing in influence and 9/2 to net the first, while Neymar, joint Champions League top scorer last term on 10, is 7/2 to strike last.
Present day Roma may not be favourites for a repeat of that famous 3-0 walk-over but, with home advantage, are a decent 3/1 shout for a draw.
Rudi Garcia’s guys have made some savvy summer loan signings and have already snatched one big scalp in Juventus this season, so are not unreasonable at 17/4 to sneak a victory.
Club captain Francesco Totti is one short of a 300 goal-haul across all competitions for his boyhood club and is 8/1 to strike last, or 11/4 to ripple the net anytime.
Likely starting ahead of the evergreen Roma icon is Edin Dzeko, who has impressed in his temporary stint so far, and is a great value price of 15/2 to fire in first. Former Barca B boy Iago Falque is another attacker seizing his loan opportunity by the horns, and the Spaniard is 7/2 in the anytime market.
The hosts certainly have plenty of hitmen at their disposal, so backing an 11/4 match special for Barca to win with both teams to score could prove most fruitful (also max stake £20).
Betting tip: Barcelona to win and both teams to score @ 11/4 (max stake £20)