Preview: Roma vs. Udinese

Preview: Roma vs. Udinese

After a deflating start to their Europa League quarter-final tie in midweek, Roma aim to stay on track for a top-four finish in Serie A when they host Udinese on Sunday.

While the Friulani secured a shock 4-0 win in September’s reverse fixture, they have taken just one point from two games ahead of their trip to the capital, where Jose Mourinho’s men have won nine times out of 14 in the league.

Roma’s 1-0 loss to Feyenoord in the first leg of the clubs’ Europa League contest left a trail of pain in its wake for the Giallorossi, as not only did captain Lorenzo Pellegrini miss a chance to put his side ahead from the penalty spot, but their two star strikers were withdrawn due to injury.

Either side of Pellegrini’s spot-kick striking the hosts’ upright, Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham were forced off injured on a miserable night for Mourinho and co at De Kuip.

Beaten by the side they defeated to win last year’s Europa Conference League final, Roma will have an opportunity to redeem themselves and make it into the final four when they reconvene with the Rotterdam club next week, but first they return to Serie A duty on Sunday.

After Dybala’s early penalty earned a 1-0 win over Torino last time out in the league, they have now won without conceding a goal on eight separate occasions in 2023 – a record equalled only by Napoli – and sit third in the table with nine rounds remaining.

Thanks to Mourinho’s grim pragmatism, Roma have picked up the most points in relation to goals scored, at a rate of 1.36 points per goal, and the veteran coach has helped them grind their way to within touching distance of a Champions League return.

Beating Torino ended a six-game wait for an away win, and they are now back on home soil in search of another victory against one of their favourite visitors: they have won eight of their last nine league meetings with Udinese at Stadio Olimpico.

Following up their trouncing of Roma back in the autumn – when Destiny Udogie opened the scoring and Sandi Lovric finished the job with a flourish – will prove no mean feat for an Udinese side that have failed to maintain their form of those days, when they were being touted by some optimists as potential top-six contenders.

The Fruilani have not done the double over Sunday’s hosts since 1998, but have at least avoided defeat in both of the teams’ last two encounters – as many times as they managed in the previous 17.

Lovric was on target again last weekend, when Beto’s stoppage-time conversion from the spot rescued a point at home to Monza, after Udinese had conceded twice in the space of 10 minutes after the break.

Previously beaten in Bologna, Andrea Sottil’s side have won just two of their last 11 away games in Serie A and have failed to find the net on four of their last seven road trips, so a trip to the Olimpico could prove quite daunting.

Their primary ambition for the rest of the season is to secure a top-half finish for the first time in 10 years, but upcoming clashes with Cremonese and Lecce may prove more helpful in that regard.

Roma Serie A form:

Roma form (all competitions):

Udinese Serie A form:

We say: Roma 1-0 Udinese
While Roma have failed to win any of the last nine league games in which they have conceded at least once, keeping another clean sheet on Sunday would avert that problem.

Even if they make a handful of changes, the capital club can help themselves to a slice of revenge against Udinese as they secure success by the slimmest of margins.

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