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Jan 16, 2022 at 5pm UK
Oliveira (33' pen.)
Oliveira (23'), Mancini (39'), Afena-Gyan (58')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Pavoletti (25'), Carboni (27'), Henrique (32'), Altare (70')

Preview: Roma vs. Cagliari - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Roma vs. Cagliari - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Roma and Cagliari, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Still reeling from their late implosion last weekend, Roma welcome improving Cagliari to Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, in search of a much-needed three points.

Before the clubs clash in the capital, Jose Mourinho's expensively assembled side have picked up fewer points than their Sardinian counterparts from the teams' respective last four Serie A games.

Match preview

Early joy turned to bitter disbelief when Roma last stepped out onto the Olimpico turf, but it was an all too real - and too familiar - experience, as Juventus staged a stunning fightback to defeat the Giallorossi 4-3.

Max Allegri's men retrieved an almost hopeless cause last Sunday, when they came from two goals behind to steal the points, with Mattia De Sciglio the unlikely matchwinner after Wojciech Szczesny kept out Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini's late penalty - consigning the hosts to yet another defeat against fellow European contenders.

A recent victory over Atalanta apart, the capital club have continually faltered versus top opposition over the past couple of years, and their loss to the Old Lady leaves them placed sixth in the Serie A standings - six points adrift of the Turin giants in the race for a Champions League place.

Such fragility has seen Jose Mourinho's side win only two of their last seven league games - losing each of the last two, to Milan and Juve - and they are becoming renowned for their lack of fortitude when events turn against them.

Roma have lost nine of their first 21 Serie A matches of a campaign for the first time since 1978-79 - highlighting their chronic inconsistency - and are the only team to have both won and lost nine games this term throughout the top five European leagues.

They have, though, generally fared better on Roman soil, having secured 20 points from 11 league outings, while one of just four away successes came in the last meeting between the clubs - a 2-1 victory in Sardinia back in October.

Including that reverse on home turf last autumn, Cagliari have won only one of their last 15 top-flight encounters with Roma - losing 10 - the outlier being an entertaining 3-2 victory over this week's hosts last April.

Indeed, the four most recent league meetings between the two very different clubs have brought about a tally of 20 goals, with the Giallorossi emerging on top on three of those occasions.

Precedent aside, Cagliari coach Walter Mazzarri will have cause to believe his team can upset the odds on Sunday evening, as the previously moribund outfit have won both of their last two league games from losing positions - demonstrating great character and lifting themselves back into the mix for Serie A survival.

Their 2-1 comeback win over Bologna saw the Isolani go behind in the second half, but they responded soon after through Leonardo Pavoletti's equaliser, before Gaston Pereiro scored a late winner to seal three points for the second time in the space of five days. They had previously beaten Sampdoria by the same scoreline at Marassi, to ensure 2022 got off to a flying start.

In the first of consecutive away fixtures - they visit Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia next week - Cagliari will now aim to further improve an awful run of results on the road, having picked up three draws and only one win from their first 10 away games. Though the gulf in class remains, perhaps there will never be a better time to meet Roma at their Olimpico headquarters than right now.

Roma Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Roma form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Cagliari Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Cagliari form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Since Roma's collapse against Juventus, they have added Porto midfielder Sergio Oliveira to their ranks, and the Portugal international is expected to make his debut on Sunday. He joins Ainsley Maitland-Niles in signing for the Giallorossi this month, but the latter could possibly make way for Rick Karsdorp at right-back as the Dutch defender returns from suspension.

Gianluca Mancini is also back from a ban doled out due to a red card against Milan and may replace Chris Smalling. One Englishman assured of selection is top scorer Tammy Abraham, who last week became the first player in his debut season at the club to have registered at least eight goals from his first 21 Serie A games for a decade.

Meanwhile, midfielders Ebrima Darboe and Amadou Diawara are still on Africa Cup of Nations duty with their respective countries, Roger Ibanez and Bryan Cristante are suspended, and Stephan El Shaarawy is an injury doubt.

Cagliari have also made a move in the market, securing Atalanta defender Matteo Lovato on loan until the end of the season, following news that veteran centre-back Diego Godin had terminated his contract by mutual consent and is bound for Brasileiro champions Atletico Mineiro. The Italy Under-21 starlet has impressed so far, and will start in Walter Mazzarri's back three.

Former Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, Martin Caceres and Polish centre-back Sebastian Walukiewicz are all still ruled out by injury, but striker Leonardo Pavoletti, who scored the opening goal last time out before being withdrawn soon after due to injury, is expected to recover in time.

Four of the Rossoblu's last six league goals have come in the final 20 minutes of play, and three have been bagged by Pavoletti. He will be joined up front by nine-goal forward Joao Pedro - scorer of six Serie A goals against Roma, all in his last five meetings with the capital club.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Maitland-Niles, Mancini, Kumbulla, Vina; Oliveira, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Abraham

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Altare, Lovato, Carboni; Bellanova, Nandez, Grassi, Deiola, Lykogiannis; Pedro, Pavoletti

We say: Roma 2-1 Cagliari

Though momentum is definitely in the visitors' favour, Roma can relieve the growing pressure on their shoulders by taking advantage of Cagliari's tendency to toil fruitlessly on the mainland.

Some fresh blood may help heal the psychological scars of last week's defeat, and a potential shift of formation may bring some short-lived vitality to an ailing Giallorossi side.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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