Roma v Sampdoria preview: Ranieri returns for first game of 2021

Roma play their first game of 2021 on Sunday afternoon as they welcome Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria to the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma went into the winter break on a high note, having beaten Cagliari 3-2. That result extended the Giallorossi’s unbeaten home run to 14 games in all competitions – a run stretching back to last season.

Now, upon their return from the break, Roma are looking to continue that momentum at home.

To do so, they will need to avoid a repeat of last year’s fate. Roma went into last season’s winter break in good form but struggled upon their return.

In fact, Roma have won only half of the first games they have played in a New Year over the last 10 years. The target now is to kick off 2021 in a strong manner.

Trying to stop that from happening will be a Sampdoria side managed by ex-Roma boss Ranieri. Recent form against the Blucerchiati has been good; Roma have not lost to that opponent in their last six meetings.

Quiz: Can you name every Roma player to make an appearance under Claudio Ranieri?

However, Roma do not have a full-strength squad for the encounter. Antonio Mirante, Pedro, Leonardo Spinazzola, Riccardo Calafiori and Federico Fazio are all out of the squad.

That likely means Pau Lopez will start in goal, while Bruno Peres may switch over to left-back. Lorenzo Pellegrini could play further forwards into an attacking midfield role.

Ahead of him, Edin Dzeko is set to make his 200th start for Roma. He scored a match-winning brace the last time these sides met and with a goal on Sunday he would become the club’s outright third top scorer of all time in Serie A.

The game kicks off at 2pm UK time. Delayed coverage will be shown on Premier Sports 2 from 5pm.

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