Roma director Francesco Totti curious about Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo
Roma legend Francesco Totti said he's interested to see what type of team Real Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo, after being drawn with the three-time defending Champions League holders in Group G on Thursday.
Totti, 41, is now a club director at Roma after retiring from professional football at the end of the 2017 season told Sky Sport Italia following the UCL draw in Monaco: "Last year, everybody was saying we'd come third in our group and then we went and beat everybody. It's a tough group, but we'll try to come at least second.
"We'll have to see what sort of a team [Real Madrid] are without Cristiano Ronaldo, even if we're still talking about extra-terrestrials. They are still Real Madrid: a compact team, hard to beat and to be respected each time you face them."
Roma, who will also face CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen in the group, exceeded expectations in last year's Champions League, topping a tough Group C ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid before beating Barcelona in the quarterfinals only to lose to Liverpool in the semis.
Asked about this year's chances, Totti said: "Doing better than last year would mean going to the final. It's not going to be easy, but we'll try to go as far as we can. The expectations are high. The team is strong, we have a united group of players and the coach has big objectives.
"We'll try to hold our own also in Europe. Roma are a competitive club."
Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco also weighed in on his team's chances, while reminiscing about the first time he pulled on a Giallorossi shirt.
"21 years ago, I took to the field for the first time in a Roma shirt," he tweeted. "Emotions are timeless, like the ones we earned for ourselves last season in Europe. We start again: new opponents, but the very same desire to gift some unforgettable nights to all Romanisti."
And Totti is also looking forward to the trip to Madrid for another reason, recalling his last time there as a Roma player in March 2016 and a curious meeting with Real president Florentino Perez post-match.
He said: "The last time I was there ... Florentino Perez wanted my shirt and asked me for a somewhat different dedication. He asked me to write 'from the only player who turned me down'."
ESPN FC writer Ben Gladwell contributed to this story.