Roma v Atalanta preview: Big battle in race for European qualification

Roma will be trying to replicate one of their best results under Jose Mourinho so far when they take on top-four challengers Atalanta on Saturday.

In December’s reverse fixture, Roma somewhat surprisingly claimed an impressive 4-1 win. They haven’t been able to build from it since, though, and are three points behind their upcoming opponents in Serie A, having played a game more.

The only way to close the gap is by picking up more points in direct encounters like this. Therefore, Roma will be hoping they can do the double over Atalanta despite a usual big-game hurdle.

Options are returning for Mourinho in terms of squad selection. Sergio Oliveira should be back on the bench, for example, but there is a feeling Henrikh Mkhitaryan may start instead of him.

Nicolo Zaniolo will be fine to play after his nose injury against Spezia last week, but he will have to use a protective mask.

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Atalanta, meanwhile, are missing a few faces, like attackers Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata, plus ex-Roma centre-half Rafael Toloi.

Depending on results elsewhere, Roma could end the matchday anywhere between fifth and eighth. The sides that could overtake them, though, do not play until after, so this is a chance to pull away while they can.

Still, Atalanta are never easy and Roma haven’t done the double over them since the 2012-13 season. Can that change on Saturday?

The game kicks off at 5pm UK time. Fans in the territory can watch it from 5:15 on BT Sport 2.

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