Fresh from securing a place in another European final, Roma return to domestic commitments on Monday to meet Salernitana at home. A lopsided contest at the Stadio Olimpico has no bearing on the visitors’ fate in Serie A but could define the home side’s domestic campaign.
Despite attempting just one shot on goal during the entire match, Roma held Bayer Leverkusen to a 0-0 draw in midweek Europa League action to book a final date against Sevilla. In a typical ‘Jose Mourinho’ performance, the Giallorossi saw the Bundesliga outfit off 1-0 on aggregate and could win a second European silverware on the trot following last year’s Europa Conference League triumph.
However, Roma’s pursuit of continental glory has taken its toll in Serie A as last weekend’s dull 0-0 draw at Bologna condemned Mourinho’s side to a fifth consecutive winless league match (D3, L2). The ‘Special One’ has seemingly readopted his infamous defensive tactics, leading to three scoreless showings in the Giallorossi’s last four outings in all competitions (W1, D2, L1).
Salernitana would naturally take the field looking to frustrate Roma with a double defensive block in front of Guillermo Ochoa’s goal, but it may not be the case on Monday. After Atalanta’s come-from-behind 3-1 home win over 18th-placed Hellas Verona on Saturday, Paulo Sousa’s men no longer run the risk of being drawn back into a relegation scrap.
Interestingly, last Saturday’s 1-0 home triumph over non-other than Atalanta could prove a season-defining moment for Salernitana, who will compete in Serie A next term, regardless of the result on Monday. Antonio Candreva’s injury-time winner helped the Granata end a three-game winless league streak (D2, L1), boosting the visitors’ spirits ahead of this trip.
With all due respect to Mourinho’s effort to add to his trophy cabinet, chasing the Europa League crown at all costs could result in a nightmare for Roma. The team’s woeful run of form in domestic football means they could finish this round two points adrift of the European placings, shifting all the pressure on the upcoming final in Budapest. Let’s not forget they face Europa League specialists Sevilla in the title decider.
If you take the European competition out of the equation, the reality looks far from perfect for Roma. After back-to-back scoring blanks against Inter and Bologna, the Giallorossi could go three consecutive Serie A matches without scoring for the first time since 1994. Worryingly for the home faithful, Mourinho’s men have netted the fewest goals among teams sitting in the top eight in Serie A this season (45).
Player to Watch: Andrea Belotti
One of the main reasons behind Roma’s uninspiring scoring record is Belotti. The ex-Torino striker has failed to find the net in all 28 Serie A appearances for the Giallorossi. Maybe Monday’s clash could flip that script.
Salernitana’s most recent Serie A travel yielded a 2-1 defeat at Empoli, ending their ten-match unbeaten league run. But Sousa’s side responded well against Atalanta last time out and could now win consecutive top-flight games for the first time since October. That seems far-fetched, though, considering they’ve lost six of their seven meetings with Roma in Serie A (W1).
Winless in their last seven away league fixtures (D5, L2), Salernitana could record their longest run with a win on the road in the top flight since 1999. Given that they’ve lost all four previous visits to Roma in Serie A, there’s not much reason for optimism in the visiting camp. A strong start could bolster their chances of avoiding the same fate, as they’ve gone unbeaten in all four away league matches after scoring first this season (W1, D3).
Player to Watch: Boulaye Dia
With only Victor Osimhen (23) and Lautaro Martinez (20) scoring more goals in Serie A this season than Dia (15), the Senegalese forward emerges as a natural choice for our ‘Player to Watch’ section.
Marash Kumbulla and Diego Llorente remain unavailable for selection in the Roma ranks. Mourinho may have to write off Leonardo Spinazzola after the Italian wing-back picked up an injury at Leverkusen on Thursday.
As for Salernitana, Diego Valencia is the only definite absentee, while Sousa remains hopeful of having Federico Fazio and Domen Crnigoj back in time to take this trip. Other than the three of them, Salernitana will have the rest of their squad available on Monday.
Roma vs Salernitana Potential Lineups
Roma (3-4-1-2): Rui Patricio; Gianluca Mancini, Bryan Cristante, Roger Ibanez; Filippo Missori, Edoardo Bove, Georginio Wijnaldum, Nicola Zalewski; Lorenzo Pellegrini; Andrea Belotti, Tammy Abraham.
Salernitana (3-4-2-1): Guillermo Ochoa; Matteo Lovato, Norbert Gyomber, Lorenzo Pirola; Pasquale Mazzocchi, Lassana Coulibaly, Tonny Vilhena, Domagoj Bradaric; Anotnio Candreva, Boulaye Dia; Krzysztof Piatek.
Roma vs Salernitana Prediction
If they fail to beat Sevilla in the grand final, Roma could miss out on European qualification next season, provided their dreadful domestic form continues. The Giallorossi must win on Monday to keep a backdoor open, and we back them to do just that.
Prediction: Roma Win
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