Barcelona vs. AS Roma: 3 things that could shape the outcome of Champions League game

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Barcelona require just a point from their Champions League fixture against AS Roma to guarantee their progression to the knockout stages of the competition as group winners.

Such a result would also allow Luis Enrique the luxury of resting virtually his entire first XI for a 'dead rubber' last game against Bayer Leverkusen.

That precise scenario can't be understated, as the Catalans warm up for the Club World Cup. A hectic schedule pre-tournament would be lightened somewhat by a night off for many.


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Roma are desperate for more than a draw to keep themselves in the hunt as group runners up and as the Italians showed in the first encounter between the sides, they are to be taken seriously.

Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this Champions League group game.

Masterful Messi

The return of Lionel Messi couldn't have come at a worse time for the visitors.

Although Neymar and Luis Suarez have more than held the fort in attacking terms in the Argentinian's absence, having Messi back in situ and back at Camp Nou will likely mean problems for the Serie A side.

Left-back Lucas Digne has been the worst performing of the back four for Roma and Messi will be chomping at the bit to get back in the groove as quickly as practicable.

With his colleagues committed to stemming the tide elsewhere, Digne has his work cut out.

Long ball Italians?

The likelihood of Roma switching to a route one game as the match wears on is high.

Mo Salah will be key to Rudi Garcia's aspirations in the opening exchanges as he relentlessly attacks Jordi Alba at pace, but if we get to half time and things aren't working out as expected then it wouldn't be a surprise to find the most basic aspects of the game being employed.

In Edin Dzeko, Roma have one of the best old-fashioned centre forwards in the business, equally adept at bringing team mates into play as he is in taking on a chance himself.

It might not be pretty in the end but Garcia won't mind that if it's effective.

Cautious Ter Stegen

Lightning wouldn't strike twice would it?

Alessandro Florenzi scored one of the goals in this year's competition in the first match when, noticing Marc-Andre ter Stegen off of his line, promptly beat him from all of 50 yards.

That goal came after a not too dissimilar effort from Mikel San Jose in the Spanish cup final.

Luis Enrique will loath to have any player playing anything other than their natural game, which means the German acts as the "sweeper keeper" as before.

However, the embarrasment of seeing another long-ranger sail over his head might be enough for Ter Stegen to be a little more cautious than normal.

Barca are in the box seat in qualification terms so it's not as if the Catalans need to take any risks this time.

Who do you think will win the game? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Luis Suarez
UEFA Champions League
Lionel Messi

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