Sunday, June 16, 2024

Prediction: Empoli vs AS Roma

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 11/16

Bookmaker: BetUS

With their Serie A status hanging in the balance, Empoli will host Roma in a crucial season finale on Sunday. Following a heartbreaking stoppage-time equalizer last week, the Tuscan club now finds itself in a must-win situation to ensure their survival in the top flight.

Meanwhile, Roma, already assured of a sixth-place finish, will be visiting Empoli with less at stake but still looking to end their season on a high note.

Empoli

Both Sassuolo and Salernitana have already been relegated to Serie B, but one more team will join them this weekend as the battle to avoid the drop reaches its climax.

When M’Baye Niang scored a penalty to put Empoli ahead in the 90th minute against fellow strugglers Udinese last week, Empoli fans might have thought their side had secured safety. However, a last-gasp penalty conversion by Lazar Samardzic left the fate of both teams uncertain.

Now, Empoli face relegation if they lose, and a draw might only be enough to force them into a possible playoff. Therefore, a win against Roma is essential at Stadio Carlo Castellani.

Despite being one point away from a position of safety heading into the final day, a win will ensure Empoli’s survival due to the fact that the two teams directly above them, Frosinone and Udinese, face each other simultaneously on Sunday evening.

Davide Nicola, known for his ability to save teams from relegation, has previously kept clubs like Crotone, Genoa, and Salernitana in the top flight. However, his current team might suffer due to their struggle in front of goal, having scored the fewest goals in Serie A this season (27). Only Cadiz and Clermont have scored fewer across Europe’s top 10 leagues.

Failing to score against Roma would see Empoli relegated, but a victory would secure them a third consecutive season in Serie A for the first time in their history.

Team News

Nicola is without Alberto Cerri, who has suffered a thigh injury, so spot-kick specialist M’Baye Niang is expected to start up front in Sunday’s crucial contest. Veteran striker Francesco Caputo may also be considered for his penalty-box experience.

Full-back Tyronne Ebuehi is the Azzurri’s only other injury absentee. Additionally, Alberto Grassi has been banned for three games following his dismissal for threatening behavior towards the referee after Udinese equalized with a late penalty last weekend.

AS Roma

Having thumped Sunday’s hosts 7-0 in September and not lost at the Castellani since 2007, Roma will be confident of continuing their dominance over Empoli in the final fixture of an eventful campaign.

The capital club are aiming for their ninth successive Serie A win against the Azzurri. However, regardless of the outcome this weekend, their Champions League fate is no longer in their hands.

Last week’s 1-0 victory over Genoa saw Romelu Lukaku score soon after Leandro Paredes was sent off, but the Giallorossi are already confirmed in sixth place due to their head-to-head records against Atalanta BC and Lazio, who sit on either side of them in the standings.

Nonetheless, if Europa League winners Atalanta finish fifth, Italy will be awarded another Champions League spot, which could allow Roma to make a cherished return to Europe’s top table.

Despite replacing Jose Mourinho with club hero Daniele De Rossi mid-season, Roma have essentially produced the same result, finishing sixth for the third consecutive year—the first time in the club’s history. They currently have 63 points, the same total as the past two seasons.

For the sake of symbolism, if nothing else, De Rossi will want to surpass that tally as he looks forward to fulfilling his new three-year contract in the ‘Eternal City’. Then, it is simply a matter of hoping Atalanta fail to overtake either Bologna or Juventus.

Team News

Roma will be without Leandro Paredes, as the Argentinian midfielder was handed a two-match suspension for insulting the officials during the Giallorossi’s win over Genoa.

On-loan striker Romelu Lukaku will also miss out due to yellow card accumulation, so Tammy Abraham, a former Chelsea man himself, is likely to be handed a rare start alongside Paulo Dybala in attack.

Dybala has been directly involved in six goals from three Serie A appearances against Empoli since moving to Rome, and only Capocannoniere leader Lautaro Martinez has played a part in more goals than Dybala (22) this season.

Conclusion

Empoli will surely seek to do whatever they can to stay in the Italian top flight, but it remains to be seen if they’re able to overcome Roma, even if the visitors don’t really need the points. The game will likely be an open one.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 11/16

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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