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By ESPN Staff

De Rossi bemoans timing of United clash

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi admits his team could not have been handed a worst possible time to take on red-hot Manchester United.

The Giallorossi play host to Sir Alex Ferguson's side tonight in the Champions League quarter-finals first leg at the Stadio Olimpico.

United, who remain unbeaten in this season's competition, go into the encounter having won six Premiership games in a row and not conceding a goal in 461 minutes.

'It's unfortunate that we meet them at a time when they are so strong,' said De Rossi. 'They are a very compact team, a difficult side to play against and a great rival.

'They have four or five players in attack that we fear and their young players are very talented.'

One of the players De Rossi most fears is England striker Wayne Rooney.

'I really like Rooney, he is among the best three players in the world,' he said. 'I just hope it will not be Rooney's night.'

De Rossi and co will be looking to avenge last season's humiliation at Old Trafford.

Both sides have already met in the group stages earlier this campaign, but the memory of their 7-1 demolition in England which eliminated them of the previous tournament is still fresh in their thoughts.

'Of course it's not something you easily forget,' aaid De Rossi, who scored Roma's only goal that night in Manchester. 'We learned from that. We know we have to play a great game and be focused.

'United are strong but results prove they are not unbeatable. We beat them 2-1 last season in the opening leg and we hope we can take a good result to England.'

Roma know they have a challenge on their hands as they will have to do without captain Francesco Totti.

Totti, who is Roma's top scorer this season, is unavailable through a thigh injury.

However, Rome-born De Rossi believes his team can and will overcome Totti's absence.

'The greatness of this Roma side is the collective,' said the Italy international. 'We will miss Totti but we are accustomed to having to play without several key players already this season and we have done well.'