Preview: Roma vs. AC Milan

Preview: Roma vs. AC Milan

With identical points tallies and goal difference in the Serie A standings, Roma and outgoing champions AC Milan convene on Saturday evening at Stadio Olimpico.

Having slipped up against Atalanta last week, the Giallorossi allowed their second-city counterparts to draw level in the table, and both now need points to aid their challenge for Champions League qualification.

After back-to-back wins had kept Roma ahead of the pack in Serie A’s top-four race and seen them progress in Europe, they then allowed one of their close competitors back into contention with a 3-1 defeat away to Atalanta on Monday.

Trailing by two goals heading into the closing stages in Bergamo, Jose Mourinho’s men found a lifeline when captain Lorenzo Pellegrini scored for the third straight game, but Rui Patricio’s blunder just moments later effectively handed La Dea all three points.

As a result, Roma sit fifth in the standings with seven rounds to go, but their destiny remains in their own hands as victory over Milan this week would take them above their Rossoneri rivals.

Having made it through to the Europa League semi-finals a few days earlier, by overturning a first-leg deficit against Feyenoord and booking a date with Bayer Leverkusen next month, the Giallorossi have plenty left to play for in the coming weeks, and their home form could prove crucial.

In 2023, Roma have kept seven clean sheets in eight top-flight matches as hosts – the best such record throughout Europe’s top five leagues – and they have beaten both Sampdoria and Udinese 3-0 in their last two Serie A games at Stadio Olimpico.

The capital club’s recent record against Saturday’s visitors, though, does not bode particularly well, as they have lost four of their last six league meetings with Milan and won none.

Despite frittering away two points in January’s reverse fixture at San Siro, when they conceded twice in the last few minutes to let Roma snatch a 2-2 draw, Milan have certainly been the dominant force in this clash of Calcio giants over recent years.

After beating the Giallorossi on their last two trips to the Eternal City, they are now targeting three wins on the bounce there for the first time since 1990.

While Roma’s forwards are beset by either injury or poor form, Milan’s Rafael Leao is stirring into life following his post-World Cup lull, and having followed his eye-catching contribution in the Champions League success against Napoli with a brace last weekend, last year’s Serie A MVP is apparently back in business.

Now enjoying his best scoring season with 12 league goals, Leao found the net in either half against Lecce to help Milan improve a record of just six points from as many games previously and build on securing a seismic semi-final clash with Inter in Europe’s top club competition.

Following a mid-season wobble, the calm hand of Scudetto-winning coach Stefano Pioli has stabilised his young squad, and having only let Napoli in when victory was all but assured in the clubs’ quarter-final tie, they have also kept a clean sheet in three of their last four league matches.

However, their Achilles’ heel – which largely explains why they are 22 points adrift of top spot in their title defence – has been some shoddy away form: Milan have suffered four losses from their last seven away games in Serie A. That is as many as in their previous 54.

Roma Serie A form:

Roma form (all competitions):

AC Milan Serie A form:

AC Milan form (all competitions):

We say: Roma 1-1 AC Milan
Though Milan were within touching distance of victory over Roma at San Siro, they ultimately had to settle for a point, and the sides may finish level again at the Olimpico. Neck-and-neck in the Serie A standings, they are closely matched this season – and the hosts are generally tough to beat on home soil.

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