Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 8/15
AS Roma are set to welcome Sampdoria to the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital on Wednesday evening, in what will be a match of the 19th round of the Serie A season.
The battle for the European places in the Italian top flight has rarely been this interesting over the last couple of years. For Roma, everything seems wide open – from qualifying for the Champions League, to missing out completely.
At the moment, Jose Mourinho’s team are in fifth place with 31 points. It’s not realistic to expect them to be in the title race, with Inter Milan leading the way on 42, but the six points that separate them from Atalanta in fourth seem quite possible to make up. However, it’s worth noting that Fiorentina in sixth and Juvenuts in seventh are also on 31, while Lazio, Roma’s arch-rivals, are just three points behind.
Roma’s last six matches in all competitions consist of four wins and two defeats. They beat Torino at home by 1-0, lost away to Bologna by the same scoreline, got thrashed at home 0-3 at the hands of Inter, beat CSKA in Sofia by 2-3 to secure the top spot in the Europa Conference League Group C, beat Spezia 2-0 at home, and achieved a tremendously important 1-4 victory away to Atalanta a few days ago.
The show in Bergamo was opened and closed by Tammy Abraham, who scored in the first and the 82nd minute. Nicolo Zaniolo (27′) and Chris Smalling (72′) struck in between, with the only goal on Atalanta’s account being an own-goal from Bryan Cristante in the first-half stoppage time.
Mourinho won’t be able to call upon two rather important players – attacking midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini (muscle) and left-back Leonardo Spinazzolla (Achilles tendon rupture) have been out of action for a long time now.
Stephan El-Shaarawy missed the last four Serie A matches with a calf problem, but he could return for this match. Fellow forward Carles Perez is also a doubt with a slight muscle issue.
With Rui Patricio in goal, Gianluca Mancini, Smalling and Roger Ibanez should form the back line. Jordan Veretout is likely to be joined by Cristante and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the middle of the park, with Matias Vina and Rick Karsdorp on the flanks. Zaniolo should be the man closest to Abraham upfront.
One look at the Serie A table is enough to tell you that Sampdoria’s aims for the season are very different than those of Roma. At the moment, Roberto D’Aversa’s team are 15th with 19 points, nine more than Genoa and Cagliari in the relegation zone, with Venezia (17) and Spezia (13). It seems quite obvious that all they can realistically do is stay in the Italian top flight, hopefully with some comfort, avoiding a last-gasp struggle.
Interestingly enough, four of Sampdoria’s last six matches ended with a 3-1 scoreline, two in their favour and two against. They beat Verona at home, then lost away to Fiorentina, lost at home at the hands of Lazio, and triumphed away to Genoa – all by 3-1. They beat Torino in the Coppa Italia by 2-1 at home, before eventually playing a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Vanezia.
Sampdoria led for almost the entire match after Manolo Gabbiadini broke the deadlock in the first minute, only to concede the equalizer three minutes before the 90 were up.
D’Aversa will be without the services of striker Ernesto Torregrossa, who has returned to training after recovering from a calf injury but still isn’t ready to play. The situation with midfielder Ronaldo Vieira (muscle injury) is similar. Winger Mikkel Damsgaard is still out with a thigh problem.
Gabbiadini will lead the line upfront, joined in attack either by Fancesco Caputo or by veteran captain Fabio Quagliarella. Morten Thorsby and Antonio Candreva should provide support from the flanks, with Albin Ekdal and Adrien Silva holding the middle of the park. Maya Yoshida and Omar Colley are likely to pair up in the heart of defence, flanked by Tommaso Augello and Bartosz Bereszynski. The place between the posts belongs to Emil Audero.
Roma are obviously the favourites to win this match, and the 8/15 odds offered by 888sport at the moment seem about right.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 8/15
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