Cannavaro eyes the final prize

FABIO CANNAVARO has plenty of reasons for hoping Real Madrid can turn around their European tie against Roma tonight — not least because the Champions League is the main prize missing from his collection.

Cannavaro has won numerous domestic and European titles during his long playing career at Napoli, Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid, while in 2006 he captained Italy to World Cup glory in Germany.

The 34-year-old centre-back also picked up the FIFA World Player of the Year and European Player of the Year awards in 2006, but he has yet to taste success in the European Cup.

“I have Ligas, Scudettos, cups ... but I lack the Champions League,” said Cannavaro.

Real coach Bernd Schuster has a number of selection issues ahead of the last-16 second leg clash, in which they trail 2-1, with Dutchman Arjen Robben out of action after suffering an ankle injury during Saturday’s 3-2 Primera Liga win over Recreativo Huelva.

Christoph Metzelder is also absent through injury as is the suspended Sergio Ramos, while there are major question marks against Dutch duo Wesley Sneijder and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Guti and Michel Salgado are back in training, while Brazilian star Robinho is pushing hard for a starting spot after scoring twice after appearing as a second-half substitute in Huelva to earn his side a 3-2 win over hosts Recre.

Without the in-form winger, Real had lost three successive games against Real Betis, Roma and Getafe, and Cannavaro for one is glad Robinho is back.

“Robinho is a spectacular player, he has a lot of quality,” said Cannavaro.

“When he has the desire, when he wants to score a goal, he does it. He is the guy who can decide a game. The blackest moment for Madrid has been when Robinho has been injured. He is a key player for the team.”

Meanwhile Roma boss Luciano Spalletti is counting on his inspirational captain Francesco Totti to propel the Giallorossi into the quarter-finals.

“This is the biggest game of the season for both teams,” Spalletti said. “It’s a fascinating and delicate encounter.

“To play for a place in the quarter-finals against Real Madrid is spellbinding for any coach.”

And Spalletti has no doubt who will be Roma’s talisman.

“We have Totti,” he said. “Totti creates light, creative play and assists, Totti is Totti, he is the soul of Roma.”

Roma welcome back defender Juan, who missed the first leg of the tie with a foot injury, while Spalletti will have to do without Marco Cassetti, who has a dislocated shoulder.

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