Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo is the leading scorer in the Champions League this seasonReuters

Real Madrid will target a big advantage from the first leg against Roma when the two teams meet in their UEFA Champions League last 16 match in Rome on Wednesday.

The 2014 champions were one of the most impressive teams in the group stages, winning five of the six matches to finish top of their group, ahead of fellow Champions League title hopefuls PSG.

Real Madrid have had a change of guard since the group stages of the Champions League, with Zinedine Zidane taking over from Rafa Benitez, who was let go after disappointing results and performances in the La Liga.

Zidane has brought a bit more verve to the side as promised, but the Frenchman, very much a novice in the managerial department, will know the Champions League is a completely different cup of tea.

"They'll be going out to get the win, because for them it is an important game and they're at home," Real Madrid striker and Zidane's compatriot Karim Benzema told Bwin. "We'll also be going there to win because we know that the first leg is very important if we want to get through the tie, although there is always the home leg to follow. We're going to work hard to win the game.

"We've got some good players, and a great team, and we're capable of achieving anything. We need to focus on ourselves. If we're on our game, we'll win.

"We need to be wary of the pace of their forwards, who can cause you problems, but we're Real Madrid, and for me, we're the best team in the world, and we've got the best defenders in the world."

Roma have improved considerably in terms of results after Luciano Spalletti returned for another stint with the club following Rudi Garcia's departure. Roma are currently on a four-match winning run in the Serie A, which has seen them push up to fourth in the table.

So, a win for Real Madrid will be far from easy, even if they will again bank on that lethal goalscorer in Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese is the leading scorer in the Champions League this season, having netted a record 11 goals already in the group stages.

Ronaldo has scored four goals in one match, a brace in a couple of games and a hat-trick in one so far in this season's UEFA Champions League. Therefore, if Roma allow Ronaldo to run the show on Wednesday, this tie will be over by the first leg.

The key will be keeping the Real Madrid forwardline quiet while applying early pressure on the Real Madrid defence. Getting an early goal will be important for Roma, just to put the cat amongst the pigeons, but then Real Madrid will be thinking along the same lines as well, knowing full well the importance of an away goal or two in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

UEFA Champions League pre-quarterfinals first leg schedule: Roma vs Real Madrid.

Date: Wednesday, February 17.

Time: 1.15 am IST (Thursday morning), 8.45 pm CET, 7.45 pm GMT, 2.45 pm ET.

Venue: Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

TV listings: India: Ten Action and Ten HD. UK: BT Sport Europe. USA: Fox Sports 1. Canada: TSN 5 and TSN 1. Australia, Middle East, North Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain and France: Bein Sports. Italy: Premium Sport. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport 3. Singapore and Malaysia: Eurosport Asia. China: PPTV and QQ Sports.

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