CL: We won't cage Cristiano Ronaldo, says Roma coach Luciano Spalleti

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Roma coach insists he won't surround Real Madrid star with a number of defenders for tonight's Round-of-16 tie

Rome: Luciano Spalletti says he will not deploy 'a cage' of defenders around Cristiano Ronaldo when Roma host Real Madrid in the Champions League tonight.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Athletic Bilbao recently. Inset: Luciano Spalletti
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Athletic Bilbao recently. Inset: Luciano Spalletti

Ronaldo scored 11 times during the group stage and returned to the scoresheet in La Liga on Saturday, netting twice in the 4-2 home win over Athletic Bilbao. Spalletti denied suggestions Ronaldo is in decline, but insisted that he will not focus his team's entire defensive efforts on stopping the Portugal star in the first leg of the Round-of-16 tie at Stadio Olimpico.

"Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world. He can always make the difference. He's a modern player — strong, fast, and able to score a lot of goals. But I won't make a cage around him, I won't use three players to mark him," said Spalleti. "The player to counter Ronaldo must be, amongst other things, quick. Alessandro Florenzi could be an option."

Spalletti was in charge when Roma recorded a memorable 4-2 aggregate win over Madrid at the same stage of the competition in the 2007-08 campaign and, while he maintains his side have a '50 per cent chance' of progressing, he says the Giallorossi are still developing under his management.

"I don't think there's a favourite. Each side has a 50 per cent chance. The last time I took out Real, I had a stable Roma, with a tried-and-tested system that had already produced results. Right now we're trying things out.

Daniele De Rossi completed training on Sunday and will be part of the matchday squad, while Spalletti has also revealed that Francesco Totti could be involved after he sat out the victory over Carpi with a muscle problem.

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