Serie A Week 7 – Sunday 18 September 2022 – Stadio Olimpico | Preview by Tlalane Phahla – Follow her on Twitter
Sunday sees a bumper Serie A schedule with all the big guns in action one last time before the FIFA international break begins. All eyes are at San Siro for the most anticipated clash between Milan and Napoli, a match between two sides who look set to go head-to-head for the scudetto this season. However, just before the spectacle in Milan, there’s the potential for another classic between Jose Mourinho’s Roma and Gian Piero Gasperini’s rejuvenated Atalanta. It’s still early days, but both teams are separated by just a point after six games and will no doubt be fighting for Champions League places this season.
Fresh off their 3-0 victory over HJK Helsinki in the Europa League, courtesy of goals from Paulo Dybala, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Andrea Belotti, the Giallorossi will quickly turn their attention to domestic football, welcoming an unbeaten Atalanta at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma under Mourinho have won their last two Serie A meetings against La Dea and have a chance to make it three for the first time since 2011. They will have to bring their A game though as their midweek success over Finnish champions was mainly aided by a red card in the 14th minute of first half.
The Giallorossi suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat against Udinese on Matchday 5 but have since responded with a 2-1 win over Monza. If they are to continue their perfect record against Atalanta under Mourinho, the hosts are going to need their big stars, Dybala in particular, who has already become a fan favourite in Rome The Argentinian playmaker has been involved in five of Roma’s eight Serie A goals scored this season (three goals and two assists).
Expected XI (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Matic, Cristante, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Dybala; Abraham
- Roma striker Tammy Abraham has scored twice in his first six Serie A games this season – the same number he managed in the first six such matches of last season. indeed, only 21% of his goals in the competition have been scored before November (4/19)
- Roma have picked up one point more this season than they managed in their first six Serie A games last term (13 vs. 12) but they have scored (8 this season vs. 14 last season) and conceded (6 in 2022/23 vs. 8 in 2021/22) fewer goals.
- Roma have won their last two league games without conceding. They could win three such matches in a row without conceding a single goal for the first time since May 2019.
After an underwhelming 2021-22 campaign saw them miss out on European football, the Nerazzurri have started the season in excellent form, pushing up to second in the Serie A table, level on points with Napoli and Milan, and they could spend the international break at the top with a victory here.
Gasperini and the Bergamaschi have enjoyed relatively a good run of results which includes a 1-1 draw against the defending champions. In Rome, the Italian tactician will have to put a stop to his poor record against Mourinho and he can look at Teun Koopmeiners to help make the difference: The Dutchman has been by far one of the most important players for the club having been involved in five of their last seven league goals (goals 4, assist 1).
Speaking to reporters ahead of the game, Gasperini said being on top of the league after six game is a great achievement and credit to the players:
We are where we are with great humility. It will be a good test tomorrow (Sunday), then there’ll be the break. We’ll understand the intensity of this league in November. It will be a terrific test against a strong physical team, Roma have added extraordinary quality to their squad.”
Expected XI (3-4-2-1): Musso; Hateboer, Toloi, Demiral, Soppy; De Roon, Koopmeiners; Lookman, Ederson, Malinovskyi; Muriel
- Atalanta have picked up 14 points and conceded three goals so far in Serie A after six matches; something that they have never bettered at this stage of the season. After seven matches, their record number of points is 16 (in 2018/19) and their fewest goals conceded is five (back in 1964/65).
- Atalanta have won their last three Serie A away games without conceding. They last won four such games in a row in December 2021 (run of 6) and only twice before they have kept a clean sheet in four league away matches in a row (in 1997 and in 2016).
- Luis Muriel has scored seven Serie A goals against Roma; only against Torino (8) and Udinese (11) has he managed more. The Atalanta striker is yet to score in four league games this season; only in 2014/15 for Udinese has he failed to find the net in each of his first five appearances.
The hosts are still without the services of Georginio Wijnaldum who is nursing a broken shinbone, while both Stephan El Shaarawy and Marash Kumbulla have muscle Injuries..
On their website, the visitors confirmed Berat Djimsiti, Davide Zappacosta and Duvan Zapata underwent separate training according to their respective recovery programs. They are not expected to be involved.