AS Roma take on AC Milan on Saturday with both teams in desperate need of a morale-boosting win to kick-start their mid-season campaign. The pressure mounts on both managers as Rudi Garcia and Sinisa Mihajlovic are under scrutiny from their respective bosses.
With only two wins in their last ten games across competitions and a disappointing Coppa Italia elimination at the hands of lowly Spezia, the atmosphere in the capital is far from positive. The most recent slump has seen AS Roma drop to fifth pace in the standings, trailing six points behind the leaders Inter. With their title bid, but also the European spot, in jeopardy the game against AC Milan can be considered the pivotal moment. Rudi Garcia has come under huge criticism lately with both fans and club president James Pallota seemingly turning their backs on the French manager. With the last year’s overall disappointment still fresh in the memory, the fans are feeling impatient and afraid that this year’s slump in the similar stage of the season could cost them any chance of challenging for the title. The 6-1 UEFA Champions League trouncing by Barcelona was particularly disappointing and underwhelming and Garcia’s men failed to bounce back from it. GIallorossi have started the new calendar year 2016 with an exciting 3-3 draw at Chievo. The Rome-based club were unable to hold on the lead twice in the game with Dainelli and Pepe denying Florenzi and Falque’s goals, respectively, to earn an important point and inflict yet another blow to AS Roma’s title ambitions.
Kevin Strootman remains a long-term absentee due to his difficult knee injury, but Garcia will also have to do without Daniele De Rossi Salih Ucan through knee and foot injury, respectively. Another blow to Garcia’s team will be the absence of Mohamed Salah who sustained a thigh injury last time out.
In addition, Edin Dzeko’s ban has been upheld, so the Bosnian forward will not be able to help him team against AC Milan. Nigerian starlet Umar Sadiq is ready to step in.
Sinisa Mihajlovic is once again walking on thin ice at AC Milan, but the Serbian manager is well accustomed to the shaky terrain. Former Sampdoria coach has been given another chance on the bench and his trip to Rome could might as well end up being his final match at the helm. Rossoneri have snapped their mini-rum of back-to-back victories over Frosinone and Sampdoria with a disappointing home loss to Bologna, which was the worst way possible to start the calendar year. Demanding in their quest to get AC Milan back to the top, the club’s seniors have perhaps been impatient with Sinisa Mihajlovic whose side lost only three of their last 15 matches in all competitions. Still, AC Milan have been unable to break into the top five and are currently lingering in seventh place with 28 points to their name. Five points adrift of their Saturday’s opposition, AC Milan will be hoping for a win in order to close the gap. Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bologna was made worse for AC Milan when the top four Inter, Fiorentina, Napoli and Juventus all won and moved one step further away from the Rossoneri.
Diego Lopez will miss out once again due to his knee injury, while Jeremy Menez is having a hip problem. Mario Balotelli is still experiencing problems with his groin and is likely to be rested for the derby match.
On the positive note, Kevin-Prince Boateng has completed his move from Schalke and is in line to make his first appearance since rejoining the club and shaking off an illness that has been bugging him lately.
Key Factors to Consider
- AS Roma have won once in their last 6 Serie A matches
- Giallorossi have won only one of their last 5 league games vs AC Milan
- Rossoneri have lost only 1 of their last 6 games on the road
- Mihajlovic has only 2 points more than Filippo Inzaghi at the same stage last season
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in AS Roma’s 6 of 7 last games
Derby game brings a lot of excitement and huge pressure for both managers, who will have a point to prove on Saturday. There is not much separating the two sides and there is a strong possibility that AS Roma and AC Milan will deny each other in their upcoming encounter.
Best Odds: 5/2