After bouncing back from a horrendous start to the season, AS Roma can qualify for the next round of the Champions League on Tuesday with a win over Bayern Munich and a helping hand from CFR Cluj.
Roma needs to beat Bayern and hope the other Group E match between FC Basel and Cluj ends in a draw.
After failing to win any of its first four games in Serie A, Roma is now unbeaten in its last seven matches in the Italian league. However, the Giallorossi have lost all three of their meetings with Bayern, going down 2-0 in September to last season’s runner-up and also losing twice in the 1985 Cup Winners’ Cup quarterfinals.
"In the first game, we didn’t play well tactically," Roma coach Claudio Ranieri said. "We contained them but our counterattack wasn’t working because we weren’t in form. Now it’s different."
Bayern has already advanced but the four-time champion still has something to play for since it hasn’t won the group yet.
"I have to decide what makes sense," coach Louis van Gaal said of the possibility of resting some regulars.
Bayern leads the group with a perfect 12 points from four games, Roma is next with six points and Cluj and Basel have three each.
The Basel-Cluj game could determine which side finishes third in the group and moves on to the Europa League.
Cluj beat Basel 2-1 in September and the Swiss side is seeking to avoid a repeat of its fate two years ago, when it failed to pick up a single point at home.
In Roma’s attack, Mirko Vucinic was rested for a 2-0 win over Udinese on Saturday and will probably start Tuesday, meaning captain Francesco Totti or Marco Borriello could be benched.
"It’s not a problem, it’s an advantage," said Borriello, who has scored eight goals in 16 matches in all competitions this season. "We’ve got a great squad."
Forward Jeremy Menez, who scored one and set up another goal for Borriello against Udinese, appears certain to keep his place in the team.
"Right now he’s a fixed starter," Ranieri said. "He’s in great form and when he turns it on the team makes a jump up in quality."
Juan, David Pizarro and Adriano have each returned from injury and midfielder Daniele De Rossi is expected back against Bayern after sitting out over the weekend with a groin problem.
Bayern’s injury situation has improved, with Franck Ribery likely to play. But captain Mark van Bommel is still out, along with Arjen Robben, Ivica Olic, Holger Badstuber and Miroslav Klose. Also, Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended for the match at the Stadio Olimpico.
Bayern has all but given up hopes of defending the Bundesliga title after a 1-1 draw in Leverkusen on Saturday left Van Gaal’s team 14 points behind leader Borussia Dortmund.
"No need to talk about the championship when we are so far behind," sport director Christian Nerlinger said.
That means Bayern is focusing on the Champions League.
Bayern is unbeaten in its last nine matches in all competitions, winning six. Mario Gomez has scored 12 goals during that run, including two hat tricks.