Serie A Week 1 – Sunday 14 August 2022 – Arechi Stadium | Preview by Tlalane Phahla – Follow her on Twitter
Salernitana may have miraculously survived the drop last season, but they will need to do it all over again and face a tough opener in the form of AS Roma who are riding high after the UEFA Europa Conference League triumph last season. Roma will come into this season with a belief they can do even better after bringing in a marquee signing in the form of Paulo Dybala who is likely to make his debut. Davide Nicola’s side has also brought in new faces including Erik Botheim who Jose Mourinho and his troops know very well, given he caused havoc for the Giallorossi last season with two goals and three assists in the 6-1 win over Roma in UECL while he was still with Bodø/Glimt.
Speaking ahead of the game, Nicola said he would like to see his players show the same character and quality as they did in Rome last season, but with a different result. He continued that he wants to see a team aware of its shortcomings but to still go out there and give it their collective all:
“I feel great emotions, I want to see immediately a team aware of its limits but eager to give our best. Last year, in Rome, we showed quality, character and intensity. It would be nice to repeat that performance. Obviously with a different result. Antonio Candreva adds a lot of experience, he knows our game system and is a guy who knows how to integrate quickly into the game knowledge. He has the right spirit, an important enthusiasm and it is evident he wanted to come to Salerno.”
Expected XI (3-5-2): Sepe; Gyomber, Fazio, Pirola; Kechrida, Coulibaly, Capezzi, Kastanos, Mazzocchi; Botheim, Bonazzoli
- Salernitana have lost more Serie A matches against Roma in Serie A than against any other side (five) and their sole victory over the Giallorossi came in January 1999.
- The Match day 1 hosts have never drawn a top-flight season opener, while these two have met once previously on the opening weekend of a league campaign – a game Roma won at the start of Serie A’s 1998-99 edition.
It has been rather an exciting summer for Roma fans, who have not only welcomed Dybala to the club, but saw the arrival of Georginio Wijnaldum recently, as well as that of defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic. Salernitana may have spent 33 weeks at the bottom of the table last season, but Mourinho is not underestimating them. In a press conference relayed on the club’s website, he said he is expecting a tough game and that they are a good side:
“It will be a tough game, at a tough place to play, against a club that was spent something like 14 million euros to bring in 10 players. Salernitana have become a really good side. So that’s why I look at this game not just with the same focus as ever, but with the knowledge that it is going to be a tough one for us. And then, as always at the start of a new season – whether you are at home or away – I am expecting an exciting game, a tough game and one that will be tough to control. Often emotion can get the better of you and you starting thinking that we’ve been working for two months just for this day. But it’s not true, we have spent these last two months getting ready for the next 10 months.”
Expected XI (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdop, Matic, Pellegrini, Zalewski; Zaniolo, Dybala; Abraham
- Salernitana are one of three sides, along with Genoa and Udinese, against which Dybala scored two goals in 2021-22.
- Tammy Abraham’s first Serie A goal came at Salernitana on 29 August 2021 and only Ciro Immobile scored more Serie A goals (15) than the Englishman (11) away from home last term.
Neither manager has confirmed any injuries but the hosts may well be without Matteo Lovato, Domagoj Bradaric and Emil Bohinen.