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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane keen to avoid another Italian defeat

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti previews Roma hosting Real Madrid in their UCL clash and believes the Italian side can be hopeful.

Zinedine Zidane has said he does not think Real Madrid's poor record against Italian sides will have a bearing on Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

Madrid have lost their last eight Champions League knockout ties against Italian opposition, a run including defeat to Juventus in last year's semifinals and elimination by Luciano Spalletti's Roma in 2008.

Madrid coach Zidane was in the team twice knocked out by his former team Juve in 2002-03 and 2004-05, and told a prematch news conference his players would "give our all" to prevent a repeat.

"We'll see how things go tomorrow, and then we've got the return leg," he said.

"We want to get through -- we're going to give our all and we'll see where it takes us. The past is in the past and we've got to look forwards and see just what we've got to do to get through the tie."

Analysing the game in El Pais, former Madrid and Roma defender Ivan Helguera said the Italian side's tactical nous presented a "dangerous" obstacle.

"Madrid are a much better team than Roma," he said. "But Roma will play the percentages and it could be a dangerous game.

"If Roma get a good result it could get very difficult, as I don't think they'll give away anything in defence at the Bernabeu."

Away form has been a problem for Madrid recently, and Helguera said: "The entire tie depends on Madrid.

"Madrid's problem away from home is they go out to see what will happen. The team reacts depending on what happens in the game, not like at the Bernabeu."

Helguera, a former teammate of Zidane's at Madrid, said he would play Croatian Mateo Kovacic in midfield and leave Isco out.

"Isco does not give assists or score goals or play with his head up or win the ball back," he added. "I like players who are creative, but with an end result.

"The problem is the Bernabeu cheers him every time he does a bit of skill. But how does the move end? Sometimes you have to pass the ball quickly so the defence cannot get organised.

"With Kovacic, there is a balance that with just [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos it's difficult to find. With three men there, you strengthen the middle more."

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