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

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

Following four straight wins at home and abroad, Roma welcome Sassuolo to Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening, as Serie A returns after the international break.

The Jose Mourinho era has begun with a bang for the Giallorossi, while their visitors have picked up four points from their first two league games as they seek to mount another challenge for the European places.

Match preview

An aggregate score of 12-2 from four competitive matches so far in the 2021-22 campaign may not be in keeping with expectations for a recent Jose Mourinho side, but Roma have certainly thrived under their new boss in the early stages of the new season.

In addition to comfortably dispatching Trabzonspor during Europa Conference League qualifying, the capital club were 3-1 winners over Fiorentina on the opening day, before travelling south to take on newly-promoted Salernitana just before the international break.

Despite a goalless first half in Salerno, a fired-up Roma then laid waste to the hosts' resistance after the interval - with Tammy Abraham netting his first goal for the club in between a pair of Lorenzo Pellegrini strikes, and Jordan Veretout also on the scoresheet in a 4-0 victory.

Following the hiatus for World Cup qualifying, the Giallorossi now return to league action looking to win their sixth home game in a row for the first time since 2017, and their manager - renowned for highlighting his personal achievements - may have some special motivation to match that streak on Sunday.

While Mourinho has come out on top in each of his games in charge so far, the former Real Madrid coach has never won his first five fixtures at any of his previous clubs during an illustrious career. Not only that, but Sassuolo's visit will be his 1,000th game as a head coach in all competitions.

Still boasting a points-per-game ratio in Serie A which has only been bettered by Antonio Conte since the turn of the century, Mourinho will now seek to build momentum, as Roma meet mid-table candidates Verona and Udinese in the coming fortnight - with the Derby della Capitale on the horizon at the end of the month.

Though Sassuolo are set to face a side with a formidable home record, since the tail-end of last season they have won their last five away games in Serie A - already a club record - and have started the new campaign well under new management.

Alessio Dionisi's men may have been held by Sampdoria last time out - in a frustrating draw where they had two-thirds of the ball and nearly 19 attempts on goal - but were winners on the opening day and remain unbeaten this term.

Though he drew a blank a fortnight ago, Domenico Berardi has been involved in 11 goals (eight goals and three assists) for the Neroverdi in his last nine league matches - making him the cause of much transfer speculation during the summer.

Now that the transfer window has shut and the Italy star has remained in Emilia-Romagna - though erstwhile strike-partner Francesco Caputo recently departed for Sampdoria - he will play an integral part in continuing the remarkable progress achieved under former coach Roberto De Zerbi over the past few years.

Incidentally, Berardi has previously scored three goals against Roma in Serie A, with each coming at the Olimpico - including a brace back in September 2019.

That season saw the two clubs exchange 4-2 home wins in an often entertaining match-up, and there is no reason to suggest that the scoreline will not be similar at the end of an intense 90 minutes on Sunday.

Roma Serie A form:
  • W
  • W

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

Sassuolo Serie A form:
  • W
  • D

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

Team News

Jose Mourinho prepares for his landmark moment as a manager with an almost fully fit squad to choose from, as Roma should have the injury-plagued Chris Smalling back in the squad on Sunday, and Nicolo Zaniolo will also be available to start after serving a suspension last time out.

Recently back from his second ACL rupture in less than two years, Zaniolo returned to the capital for tests after withdrawing from the Italy squad with a bruised thigh last week, but has now been passed fit.

Mourinho is, though, waiting for confirmation that full-back Matias Vina can play, due to sustaining an injury on international duty with Uruguay. Therefore, young Riccardo Calafiori could start on the left of the back four, as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Sassuolo also have a relatively clean bill of health, though midfielder Pedro Obiang is still out injured.

For that reason, Alessio Dionisi, who oversaw a 2-0 friendly defeat to Cremonese last week, should stick with Davide Frattesi in the centre with former Marseille man Maxime Lopez. However, Matheus Henrique - recently arrived from Gremio as a replacement for Manuel Locatelli - is now also available for selection.

While 'Ciccio' Caputo may have left after a goal-laden spell at the club, Gregoire Defrel, target man Gianluca Scamacca and his diminutive international colleague Giacomo Raspadori are among the diverse centre-forward options available to Dionisi - with the latter a strong favourite to start in Rome.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Smalling, Calafiori; Cristante, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Abraham

Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez; Berardi, Boga, Djuricic; Raspadori

We say: Roma 2-1 Sassuolo

Home advantage and the return of some important squad members should ensure that Roma secure another three points this weekend, as their early-season success continues into a new month.

Sassuolo can undoubtedly pose a significant attacking threat on their day, but the probing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicolo Zaniolo will help the hosts slice through their defensive line on several occasions, causing them to come up just short in the end.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals 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.Over 2.5:data

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