Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Serie A clash between Roma and Sampdoria, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Former Roma manager Claudio Ranieri returns to his old stomping ground with Sampdoria in Serie A on Sunday.
The 69-year-old had two spells in the Italian capital, with the most recent one lasting only two months in 2019, but has enjoyed a more productive spell in Liguria with his side 11th in the table.
Roma, meanwhile, have had an excellent start to the season, with Paulo Fonseca guiding his side to third in the table after 14 games as they look to return to the Champions League next campaign.
The Yellow and Reds ended 2020 impressively, winning three of their last four matches, with the thrilling 3-2 win over Cagliari rounding the calendar year off in style.
Former Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Veretout opened the scoring with his seventh of the season after 11 minutes, with Joao Pedro responding just before the hour mark. However, Edin Dzeko scored his sixth goal in 11 league games this season, with Gianluca Mancini doubling Roma’s lead six minutes later. As such, Joao Pedro’s injury-time strike proved little more than a consolation goal.
With the likes of Veretout, Dzeko and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in fine form this season, there looks to be real belief at Roma that they can finish in the top four for the first time in three years.
Such lofty league finishes are becoming a distant memory for Sampdoria, who have not finished in the top four of Serie A since the 2009-10 campaign.
Survival is the primary aim these days for a club which routinely finished in the top half of Italy’s top flight in the 1980s and 1990s, with Ranieri guiding Sampdoria to 15th place last season having been employed in October 2019 with the club in dire straits.
Relegation does not look to be a concern this time around, with 17 points from the opening 14 games seeing them sit comfortably seven points adrift of danger. Only eight sides possess a superior goal difference to Sampdoria so far this season, meanwhile, illustrating how difficult they can be to beat under Ranieri.
However, the 69-year-old will not be happy with the fact they have conceded 24 goals so far this season, with the 3-2 home defeat to Sassuolo prior to the winter break highlighting their defensive weaknesses.
Roma Serie A form: LDWWLW
Roma form (all competitions): DLWWLW
Sampdoria Serie A form: DLLWWL
Roma will be without goalkeeper Antonio Mirante and Leonardo Spinazzola due to injury, but otherwise Fonseca looks to have a clean bill of health to choose from.
Former Chelsea winger Pedro Rodriguez and Mkhitaryan are likely to slot in behind Dzeko in attack.
Sampdoria, meanwhile, are missing Manolo Gabbiadini, Alex Ferrari and Bartosz Bereszynski due to injury.
Keita Balde is suspended having been sent off late on in the defeat to Sassuolo.
Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdrop, Pellegrini, Veretout, Peres; Pedro, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko
Sampdoria possible starting lineup:
Audero; Yoshida, Tonelli, Colley, Augello; Jankto, Ekdal, Thorsby, Damsgaard; Ramirez, Quagliarella
We say: Roma 3-1 Sampdoria
With both teams scoring and conceding plenty this season, we can envisage an entertaining encounter in Rome, with the hosts coming out on top.
Dzeko should be too much for Sampdoria’s back line to cope with.
Top betting tip
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