After suffering a narrow defeat in the Europa League, Serie A action returns to Jose Mourinho’s Roma as they host 13th-placed Lecce at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening.
The Giallorossi will look to capitalise on their formidable form at the Olimpico where they have lost only one fixture in their last 11 Serie A matches. Despite their European woes, manager Jose Mourinho will aim to march his men by keeping in mind Roma’s arduous win against top-four challenger, Inter, where Chris Smalling dealt the final blow after teammate Paulo Dybala equalised with an astounding volley. Currently, in sixth place, Roma will look to finish off another newly promoted side and establish some momentum to their campaign.
Meanwhile, Marco Baroni’s Lecce head to the capital after stringing together a run of three consecutive unbeaten matches. The Puglia outfit have scored at least one goal in their last five out of six Serie A fixtures and possesses a tremendous capability to pull off an upset at Rome on Sunday. Having drawn to leaders Napoli this season, the newly promoted side have their morale boosted ahead of the match and will do everything to come away with a point or so.
Last five results in all competitions:
L W L W W
D W D L D
Roma manager Jose Mourinho will return to the touchline after serving his ban. New arrival Andrea Belotti could be in contention to start over Tammy Abraham alongside Paulo Dybala. Georginio Wijnaldum, Ebrima Darboe, Rick Karsdorp and Zeki Celik are out of this fixture with long-term injuries. Nicola Zalewski is expected to start in the right flank.
Lecce have a fully-fit squad with the exception of Kristijan Bistrovic. Forward Gabriel Strefezza should retain his place in the starting eleven after scoring in his last two Serie A outings.
Roma (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Kumbulla, Ibanez; Zalewski, Matic, Cristante, Spinazzola; Dybala, Zaniolo; Belotti
Lecce (4-3-3): Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Pezzella; Gonzalez, Hjulmand, Askildsen; Strefezza, Ceesay, Banda
The Giallorossi will look to score early and build on their game from there. Mourinho’s men have had their defensive woes so a clean sheet in this fixture will serve as a big morale boost for them. The key would be to get the ball to the likes of Belotti and Dybala upfront to emphasise their superiority over the newly promoted side. Meanwhile, Lecce are expected to play the waiting game and capitalise on counter-attacks. Baroni’s side will look to hold on to possession as much as possible, failure of which may close them a great deal from the quality of Roma’s attack.
GIFN | Trambak Bhattacherjee