Real Madrid might feel they've seen a ghost when they take on Spalletti's Roma

Spanish side were stung by the Romans eight years ago

Luciano Spalletti, Roma, Real Madrid

Luciano Spalletti (Picture by: Tony Marshall / EMPICS Sport)

It's hard to believe given Real Madrid's record in European competition, but it's just shy of 30 years since Real Madrid last beat an Italian team in a knockout tie.

The last time was against Diego Maradona's Napoli which you can read about here, but they will hope to end their miserable run when they take on AS Roma over the next two legs, starting tonight.

But as Roma's newly returned manager Luciano Spalletti steps onto the touchline at Rome's Stadio Olimpico tonight, you can forgive Real if they feel they have seen a ghost.

Spalletti never won a trophy for Roma in his previous spell there but enjoyed some famous performances, including runner-up positions in Serie A.

But also in Europe, the Italian coach was at the helm when Roma knocked Real out of the Champions League last-16 in 2007-08.

This came in a period when the Spanish club were dumped out at the knockout stage in every season between 2004-05 when Juventus beat them and 2009-10 when Lyon did the same.

In 2008, Roma beat a side featuring stars like Raul, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben and Iker Casillas home and away by 2-1 scorelines. 

In the first leg, Roma prevailed at home, coming from an early Raul goal down to win thanks to goals from David Pizarro and ex-Brazilian winger Mancini.

And then at the Santiago Bernabeu, Roma made a Colosseum of European football shudder as Rodrigo Taddei and Mirko Vucinic scored to overcome another Raul goal.

Unfortunately, for Roma progression was shortlived as Manchester United beat them 7-1 at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals.