Roma v Inter preview: Time to determine title credentials

Roma host Inter Milan on Sunday in a game that will have a major impact on their ambitions for the season.

Roma go into the match just three points behind their second-placed opponents, so would overtake them because of their head-to-head record with a win.

However, there are still doubts about Roma’s ability to compete with their rivals near the top of the table. Losses to Napoli and Atalanta earlier in the season raised questions about how far the Giallorossi could go if they cannot get results out of games like these.

That said, of all the top sides, Inter did not cause Roma too many problems last season. In their first meeting in December, Paulo Fonseca’s side kept a clean sheet at San Siro – becoming the first of just three teams to do so against Antonio Conte’s men in Serie A.

Then, in the return fixture, Roma were moments away from victory when they conceded a late penalty, which made them settle for another draw.

It still remains the case that Roma have not lost to a side managed by Conte since 2014. Therefore, as big a challenge as it will be, there should be big motivation – especially with the opponents going into the game on the back of a defeat and Roma instead being on a three-match winning run.

It should make for a fascinating encounter between two of the highest-scoring teams in Serie A this season. Both teams know their systems well and have a good blend of youth and experience, so individual talent could be the difference as they go toe-to-toe.

Roma are likely to turn to their big players to help them push for a result. Leonardo Spinazzola makes a timely return from injury, while there are no new concerns for other players.

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Spinazzola will be keen to prove his worth once more against the side that eventually turned down the chance to sign him almost one year ago. He scored the last time he faced them, and has grown to become one of Roma’s best players since.

Hence, his return will be a major boost for a side already being treated as title contenders by their opposing manager.

Roma’s squad is still not at full strength, but most of the players Fonseca has been relying on will be available. He was coy on who he would select in his starting lineup, though.

All the coach confirmed was that Pau Lopez will start in goal, Spinazzola will play at left wing-back, and that he will choose two players out of Jordan Veretout, Bryan Cristante and Gonzalo Villar in midfield.

There was no mention of Borja Mayoral after his brace against Crotone in the last game, so it is more likely that captain Edin Dzeko will return to lead the line.

Dzeko has scored in each of his last two appearances at the Olimpico, but despite providing both assists in the most recent meeting between the two sides, hasn’t scored against Inter since 2017. Sunday’s game would be the perfect time for him to end that wait and continue his positive season.

Should Roma get a result, then it would extend their unbeaten record at home this season. More significantly, though, it would add further fuel to the growing optimism that the club might be able to compete at the very top for the rest of the campaign.

The game kicks off at 11:30am UK time and will be shown live on Premier Sports 1.

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