Trips to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome are rarely fun for European teams. It's incredibly loud, full of hostile fans who would like nothing more than to see their opponents drawn and quartered. That's an environment that Barcelona are going to have to get the better of on Wednesday, though, as they get set to play AS Roma on Italian soil.
Of course, Barcelona are the defending Champions League winners, so they're unlikely to be too intimidated by the occasion and environment. Roma need to try to get something out of this match as they're in a strong Group E that includes Bayer Leverkusen, who are likely to pick up all three points in a home match against BATE Borisov. Roma can't afford to drop too many points if they want to make the knockout rounds this year, so getting at least a draw at home against Barcelona would be a huge boon. If they could repeat the 3-0 win they earned when last they played Barcelona at home in the Champions League, way back in 2002, all the better, but Roma can't hope for too much -- these two teams are both in different places now than they were 13 years ago, and this is a much, much better Barcelona team.
Key player -- Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
With Roma likely two start two of Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Seydou Keita -- and will quite possibly start all three -- Barcelona's midfield is going to be awfully short on space to work with. Fortunately for them, Iniesta is a master of figuring out how to work with limited space, so the Blaugranes should be fine in terms of their creative production from midfield -- but age has sapped Iniesta's old edge somewhat, and if he struggles to get free, Barca's vaunted front line could wind up starved for service.
Key matchup -- Edin Dzeko (Roma) vs. Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Dzeko has been carrying the weight of Roma's attack this season since joining from Manchester City, and he's been doing it well. He only has a goal and assist registered in three league matches, but his ability to demand attention up front has been invaluable to Roma's attack. He also scored in each of Bosnia-Herzegovina's matches this past international break, so it's not as though Dzeko has zero goal-scoring form at the moment. He'll be facing off against a rested and fit Pique, though, as the Spanish star was suspended for Barcelona's weekend match against Atletico Madrid. If Pique is on his game for this match, it's going to be tough going for Dzeko, and thus for Roma.
AS Roma injuries and suspensions
Out: Miralem Pjanic (calf), Kevin Strootman (knee) In doubt: Salih Uçan (flu), Antonio Rudiger (knee), Maicon (thigh)
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Out: Thomas Vermaelen (calf), Claudio Bravo (calf), Dani Alves (groin), Douglas (hamstring) In doubt: none
The absences of Vermaelen and Alves leave Barcelona's backline a little thin, and while Bravo has good cover in the form of Marc Andre ter Stegen, who played Barcelona's Champions League matches last year in their title-winning campaign, the German has had a slightly shaky start to his season. Roma, meanwhile, are without their key playmaker in Pjanic, thanks to a calf injury picked up on international duty.
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S. -- English), Fox Deportes (U.S. -- Spanish), RDS (Canada), PremiumSport HD (Italy), beIN Sports Spain (Spain)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go, Fox Sports Go (U.S.), beIN Sports Connect Spain (Spain)