Roma’s return to action takes a step up in intensity on Sunday afternoon when they face AC Milan away.
The Giallorossi resumed their season with a 2-1 win against Sampdoria, a game in which they created chances aplenty. Paulo Fonseca is expecting a tighter game this time around, though, as they take on a team trying to catch up with the European places.
After a difficult start to the season, Stefano Pioli has restored some balance at Milan, who now lie two places and nine points behind Roma in the table. However, they will be without key striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sunday’s encounter. Ex-Giallorossi loanee Simon Kjaer is a doubt.
Ante Rebic is the danger man in Ibrahimovic’s absence. He scored in Milan’s last game, a 4-1 win away at Lecce. With seven league goals – all of which have come in the New Year – he is their top scorer in Serie A this season.
Roma, meanwhile, are able to call on exactly the same squad that took on Sampdoria. Despite reports of another injury for Davide Zappacosta in training, the right-back is fit to play. So too is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was one of the standout players against Samp.
While the squad is exactly the same, the lineup is unlikely to be. Fonseca is likely to rotate his squad given how quickly the games are coming. One man who will definitely keep his place, though, is Antonio Mirante – with Pau Lopez still out injured.
It remains unclear whether or not Roger Ibanez will retain his place alongside Chris Smalling, after a mixed debut in midweek. Likewise, Amadou Diawara may lose his place after his error led to Samp’s goal on Wednesday.
Bryan Cristante could replace Diawara, like he did as a substitute on Wednesday. Lorenzo Pellegrini came on at the same time, and also could make his first start since lockdown.Embed from Getty Images
Roma have not won at San Siro on their last four visits. The most recent trip there was a 0-0 draw with Inter Milan in December. You would have to go back to October 2017 to find the last time Roma came home with a win, having beaten Sunday’s opponents 2-0.
Edin Dzeko scored on that day, as he did in the most recent meeting between Roma and Milan, a 2-1 win at Stadio Olimpico.
Naturally, he is likely to be key for Roma again. His brace against Sampdoria drew him level with Pedro Manfredini in the club’s all-time top scorers chart.
Dzeko has five goals from seven games since becoming permanent captain after Alessandro Florenzi’s departure in January. He needs two more to match the tally of another legend in Rodolfo Volk, which would make him the joint-fourth top scorer in Roma history.Embed from Getty Images
Only three other players from the starting lineup of Roma’s last win at San Siro are still at the club. They are Bruno Peres, Federico Fazio and Aleksandar Kolarov. The former and latter started at full-back against Sampdoria, while Fazio missed out at centre-back.
Opportunities could arise for several players, though, as Fonseca looks to shuffle things around. A win would put Roma in a commanding position in terms of securing European qualification, but there is still ground to be made up if they want that to be for the Champions League.
This will be Roma’s first away game since the re-start. Fans had been travelling in numbers earlier in the campaign, but it will once again be held behind closed doors.
Roma have won three, drawn one and lost three of their away games so far in 2020. Will a lack of fans make a difference?
The game kicks off at 4:15pm UK time – a schedule Fonseca is not happy with due to the heat. It will be shown live on Premier Sports 1.