Preview: Roma vs. Sassuolo
Two of Serie A’s form sides convene at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, as top-four contenders Roma host a Sassuolo side reborn in 2023.
While the Giallorossi followed up victory over Juventus with a midweek win in Europe, their visitors have won six of their last eight league games.
After suffering a shock defeat to lowly Cremonese at the end of last month, Roma’s start to March has more than made up for such an aberration, as success at home to Juventus set the stage for Thursday’s 2-0 win in the Europa League.
Following Gianluca Mancini’s wonderstrike to beat Juve, Jose Mourinho’s men reverted to more familiar means against Real Sociedad, with Marash Kumbulla heading in from Paulo Dybala’s corner to record another set-piece strike for the Romans.
Stephan El Shaarawy had been brought into the side by Mourinho and duly scored the opener in the teams’ last-16 tie, during which Andrea Belotti and La Real’s Take Kubo also hit the woodwork.
Having secured a vital first-leg lead while racking up yet another clean sheet, the Giallorossi will travel to San Sebastian next week expecting to seal a place in the quarter-final draw; continuing a run of continental success stretching back to last year’s Conference League triumph.
Last week, Roma recorded a ninth one-goal win in Serie A this season – the joint-most in the division alongside Inter – as Mourinho’s imprint grows ever larger at the Olimpico, and despite sometimes struggling for fluency they have also found the net in each of their last 12 league games.
They could now post their longest such streak for the first time since a run of 21 under Luciano Spalletti six years ago. That would surely help a side chasing Champions League qualification improve their recent record against Sunday’s visitors: Roma have lost only one of 19 previous meetings with Sassuolo, but have won just one of the last six.
Given some much-improved form since the start of the year, Sassuolo may fancy their chances of going unbeaten against Roma for only the second season since reaching Serie A: they drew 1-1 in November’s reverse fixture.
Rome-born midfielder Davide Frattesi will be anticipating this week’s fixture more than most, and the Italy international was on target against rock-bottom Cremonese last time out, as the Neroverdi survived a comeback to win 3-2 through Nedim Bajrami’s stoppage-time strike.
After breathing a sigh of relief, having seen his side let a two-goal lead slip, coach Alessio Dionisi could reflect on a record of four wins from six, kicked off by their remarkable 5-2 thumping of Milan at San Siro.
Throughout Sassuolo’s last eight league fixtures, they have only lost to Scudetto favourites Napoli, who are the sole side to have posted more points during that spell.
Having maximised their haul against promoted clubs Lecce and Cremonese, the Emilian club could now equal their longest winning run under Dionisi, who guided them to 11th place last season after picking up the reins from Roberto De Zerbi.
Following a sluggish start, his resurgent team are showing signs of being able to match that finish in June, but one of their toughest challenges awaits in the Eternal City this weekend.
Roma Serie A form:
Roma form (all competitions):
Sassuolo Serie A form:
We say: Roma 1-1 Sassuolo
Perhaps running out of steam amid a hectic fixture list – and with one eye on their trip to Spain next week – Roma could slip up against a club they have recently struggled to beat. Sassuolo are back to something like their fearless best so should expect to breach their hosts’ miserly back line.