Two of the challengers for Serie A’s Champions League spots meet on Sunday when Roma host Sassuolo (2pm kick-off).
Sassuolo have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far, with Roberto De Zerbi’s currently third after nine games, five points behind early leaders AC Milan. Until last weekend they were one of three teams still unbeaten in Serie A, a run brought to an end by second-placed Inter Milan. Accumulating 18 points so far, Sassuolo have the opportunity to cement 2020/21 as their best start to a Serie A campaign ever, never achieving more than that amount after 10 games.
But standing in their way, one point and three places behind, are Roma. Like Sassuolo, Roma tasted defeat last weekend, beaten 4-0 by Napoli, but they were given the opportunity to bounce back with victory over BSC Young Boys in the Europa League on Thursday. The win secured top spot for Roma which means they can rest players next week and, as such, may focus solely on Sunday’s game with Sassuolo.
Roma do have a good record against this weekend’s visitors, winning eight of the Serie A games between the sides (only Juventus have beat Sassuolo more) but Sassuolo did win the most recent fixture, their first victory over Sunday’s opponents.
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Roma & Sassuolo’s previous line-ups:
- Roma (vs BSC Young Boys): Lopez; Ibanez, Cristante, Juan Jesus; Peres, Diawara, Villar, Calafiori; Perez, Pedro; Mayoral.
- Sassuolo (vs Inter Milan): Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches*, Ferrari, Rogerio; Lopez, Locatelli; Berardi, Djuricic, Boga; Raspadori.
Roma are hoping they will be able to call upon Jordan Veretout after he suffered a knock in last weekend’s defeat to Napoli but Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini remain out for Fonseca’s side.
Meanwhile Sassuolo may be without Vlad Chiriches, who suffered an injury in the defeat to Inter Milan, joining Francesco Caputo and Gregoire Defrel on the sidelines.
Players to watch:
- Roma: Edin Dzeko was rested for a large part of the Europa League against BSC Young Boys on Thursday night which means, unfortunately for Sassuolo, he should be fresh and ready to start this weekend. The Bosnian striker did come on for the final 30 minutes of the game and found the net for Roma, his fourth goal of the season (three of which have come in Serie A). Although this is not the prolific return many expect from Dzeko, with only Benevento and AC Milan conceding to the striker, he has a strong record against Sassuolo. The 34-year-old has scored five goals against Sassuolo in Serie A, his joint-best record in the competition. And two of those goals came in games last season, having previously gone two campaigns without finding the net. Sassuolo will be hoping 2020/21 is more like 2017/18 or 2018/19 but you can’t count against Dzeko scoring.
- Sassuolo: Domenico Berardi. Sassuolo have missed Francesco Caputo through injury, with their goalscoring taking a hit, but Berardi is one player who can certainly replace the club’s top scorer. The 26-year-old, who has been captaining Sassuolo this season, has been directly involved in seven goals so far this season, second only to Caputo among the Sassuolo squad. Crucial from the right wing, Berardi has only failed to be involved in a goal in three games so far this season, either scoring or recording an assist in the remaining five. And when in those games Berardi has failed to score or create, Sassuolo have managed just one goal. He drew a blank last time out against Inter, so Berardi will want to get back on track this weekend.
Scoreline prediction: Roma 1-1 Sassuolo
Serie A 2020/21 recent form:
- Roma: DWWWL
- Sassuolo: DWDWL
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