Preview: Roma vs. Fiorentina – prediction, team news, lineups

A new era gets underway in the Italian capital on Sunday, as Roma welcome Fiorentina to Stadio Olimpico in their first match of the Serie A season.

Now under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, the Giallorossi will take on a side who have experienced more than enough managerial change of their own this year – with their previous boss lasting only 22 days in the job.


Match preview

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho pictured on September 27, 2020© Reuters

After their 2020-21 season tailed away into disappointment, at home and in Europe, it was inevitable that Roma’s ambitious board would make a change, so Paulo Fonseca was shown the exit and fevered speculation about his replacement quickly commenced.

The capital club certainly caused a stir, as former Inter coach Jose Mourinho – who can still boast a 2.18 points-per-game ratio in Serie A; bettered only by Antonio Conte this century – was then persuaded to sign on the dotted line.

While the Portuguese tactician grabbed the headlines with his arrival in Rome, the Giallorossi faithful will be equally pleased to have seen playmaker Nicolo Zaniolo back in the fold during pre-season, following an extraordinarily bad run of luck with serious injuries over the past two years.

As a measure of his importance to the club at a relatively tender age, Roma remain unbeaten in each of the 10 league matches in which he has found the net, while – incidentally – the Italy international has been involved in three goals in as many meetings with opening day opponents Fiorentina.

Zaniolo, of course, missed out on the Azzurri’s enthralling Euro 2020 win last month, and his club colleague Leonardo Spinazzola will be unavailable to Mourinho for the coming months after suffering a devastating Achilles tendon rupture while showing his talents on the grand stage.

Nonetheless, they seem to have recruited well – bringing in Rui Patricio to solve their goalkeeping woes, Tammy Abraham to replace former captain Edin Dzeko, and Matias Vina to cover Spinazzola at left-back. The former and latter both started in Thursday night’s Europa Conference League win over Trabzonspor in Turkey, with a 2-1 victory edging them closer to a place in the group stage.

After winning in Europe, now Roma should approach their first task in the new league campaign with confidence, as they have come out on top in each their last four meetings with Fiorentina. Certainly, things can surely not get worse than last season’s opener, when they were ultimately consigned to a 3-0 defeat after failing to properly register midfielder Amadou Diawara.

Spezia manager Vincenzo Italiano pictured in November 2020© Reuters

Not only are they still reeling from a summer of upheaval but, this weekend, Fiorentina must open the new season against opponents who have recently dominated them completely. Furthermore, the Viola have lost each of their last three season openers played at the Olimpico – in 1990, 2004 and 2014.

Precedent will be of little concern to new head coach Vincenzo Italiano, though, as he aims to take his team into the top half of the table and away from the relegation threat which they faced throughout much of 2020-21. Having taken over from Gennaro Gattuso – who departed without taking charge for a single game – the former Spezia manager has been asked to reproduce the enterprising style of play demonstrated by his former club during their Serie A debut last term.

To aid his cause, star striker Dusan Vlahovic remains in harness – for now at least – and will expect to continue his electric form from the first half of the calendar year. Following the winter break, the Serbia international racked up 17 Serie A goals – the joint-most alongside Cristiano Ronaldo – and has drawn desiring glances from clubs including Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur as a result.

His fellow Serb, Nikola Milenkovic, is also a man in demand, but news that he has penned a two-year contract extension now bolsters the Viola’s hopes of stabilising an uncertain defence. Veteran winger Franck Ribery, meanwhile, has departed in acrimonious circumstances; perhaps making way for younger blood, as Italiano seeks to rebuild.

A series of pre-season wins has also helped the new boss build faith in his ideas, before a 4-0 crushing of Cosenza in the first round of the Coppa Italia last week set Fiorentina up well for tougher challenges ahead – starting in Rome on Sunday.

Roma form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
Fiorentina form (all competitions):

Team News

Chris Smalling warms up for Roma on February 27, 2020© Reuters

After an injury-riddled campaign last season, Roma defender Chris Smalling is set to miss out on their opening day fixture, as he sustained a thigh strain in training earlier this week. He joins long-term casualty Leonardo Spinazzola and young midfielder Gonzalo Villar on the sidelines, but Jose Mourinho should otherwise have a fully fit squad to select from.

New signings Eldor Shomurodov and Tammy Abraham will most likely battle it out for the centre-forward’s role after Edin Dzeko’s departure, while Rui Patricio and Matias Vina are set for league debuts in goal and at full-back respectively.

Mourinho is expected to ditch his predecessor’s favoured 3-4-2-1 formation for a flat back four, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and returning star Nicolo Zaniolo starting in support of the front man.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, have only Sofyan Amrabat out injured to start the season, so Vincenzo Italiano will be free to select his preferred 4-3-3, which brought him so much success at Spezia.

Dusan Vlahovic will lead the line for the visitors, with Erick Pulgar, Giacomo Bonaventura and Youssef Maleh set to start in midfield, given Amrabat’s absence.

Having scored on his competitive debut in the cup, winger Nicolas Gonzalez is in line to start out wide, following 28 goals in 53 Bundesliga games for Stuttgart in the past two years.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina; Cristante, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Shomurodov

Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Dragowski; Venuti, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Bonaventura, Pulgar, Maleh; Gonzalez, Vlahovic, Sottil


SM words green background

We say: Roma 2-1 Fiorentina

While Fiorentina may just have stumbled on the right manager after a series of missteps, they might have to wait until next week’s home game with Torino for their first points of the new season.

Even if the jury is still out on Roma’s high-profile appointment, they have proved a formidable force at the Olimpico in recent times and should continue that trend on Sunday night thanks to some interesting attacking acquisitions.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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Author: BetSuzy

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