Roma v Cagliari preview: Last game of 2020 sees Di Francesco return

Roma play their final game of 2020 on Wednesday night as they host Cagliari in a Serie A match.

The last game before the winter break sees the side from Sardinia visit Stadio Olimpico, as Roma look to bounce back from the recent defeat to Atalanta.

Roma are in fifth place after that defeat, but a win would see them return to the Champions League places.

The game will see Eusebio Di Francesco return to Roma for the first time since he was sacked by the club in 2019. Di Francesco took charge of Cagliari in the summer, and will now bring his new side back to the capital.

Di Francesco oversaw one of Roma’s best ever matches during his time in charge, the 3-0 win over Barcelona. His former employers will be hoping he does not lead another underdog story back at the same venue.

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Current Roma boss Paulo Fonseca is expected to rotate his lineup for the match. He has confirmed that Leonardo Spinazzola is out with injury, so Riccardo Calafiori could start.

Fonseca revealed that Pedro would start the game, while also mentioning Marash Kumbulla and Gonzalo Villar – whose first start for Roma was in the most recent game against Cagliari back in March – as players who could come back in.

That game in which Villar first impressed was the most recent of a 12-match unbeaten streak against Cagliari. The last time the Isolani beat Roma was in 2013, when Radja Nainggolan was among their scorers.

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Nainggolan spent last season on loan back at Cagliari from Inter, but he has since returned to his parent club. Therefore, there will be no former Roma players among the opposition ranks this time.

The key opponents to watch instead, then, will be forward Joao Pedro – who scored in both games against Roma last season – midfielder Marko Rog and goalkeeper Alessio Cragno. The trio have all started every Serie A game for Cagliari this season.

Striker Giovanni Simeone could also pose a threat, while Nahitan Nandez will be a force to be reckoned with in midfield.

Roma should have enough quality of their own to overcome their opponents, though. The Lupi are looking to preserve an unbeaten run at home that stretches back to the start of July.

Should they do so, it would ensure a positive end to a calendar year that has improved vastly as it has gone along.

The game kicks off at 7:45pm UK time and will be available to watch live on Free Sports.

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