Roma will be looking to bounce back in Serie A after their defeat in the Derby della Capitale against Lazio last week when they welcome Empoli to the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday at 5pm (UK time).
It was a disappointing defeat in his first Rome derby for Jose Mourinho, but he put that loss behind him as his side thrashed Zorya Luhansk 3-0 in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, and he will be looking to carry that momentum into this weekend’s game against an Empoli side who are currently on a two-game winning run.
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Scoreline prediction: Roma 1-0 Empoli
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Roma vs Empoli build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Mourinho locked metaphorical horns with another former Chelsea manager last week in Maurizio Sarri, but it was the more recent Blues boss who claimed the spoils in the first Derby della Capitale of the season, with Lazio edging a tight contest 3-2. That defeat was Mourinho’s second of the season, but his side remain ensconced in the top four and he will be aiming to consolidate the Giallorossi‘s position there with three points in this contest.
For Empoli, they’ve made a stellar start to the campaign which actually began with a whimper against Rome-based opposition. The newly-promoted club lost 3-1 to Lazio on matchday one, but since that opening-day defeat, Aurelio Andreazzoli’s side have claimed the scalp of Juventus, keeping a lid on the Italian giants in a 1-0 win, and won successive matches against Cagliari and Bologna heading into this match in the capital.
- Roma (vs Zorya Luhansk): Patricio; Ibanez, Smalling, Kumbulla, Calafiori; Cristante, Darboe, Perez, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy; Shomurodov.
- Empoli (vs Bologna): Vicario; Stojanovic, Romagnoli, Viti, Marchizza; Henderson, Ricci, Zurkowski; Bejrami, Di Francesco, Pinamonti.
Leonardo Spinazzola remains a long-term absentee for Roma following his Achilles tendon rupture in the Euros. Mourinho rotated heavily for the Europa Conference League on Thursday night, with the likes of Ebrima Darboe getting a rare run out, but he is likely to re-introduce Tammy Abraham, Nicolo Zaniolo, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jordan Veretout here.
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Player to watch: Chris Smalling (Roma)
Having missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury, Chris Smalling is now back to full fitness and will be looking to make a first Serie A start of the campaign. The former Manchester United centre-back is, of course, well-known to Mourinho, with the duo working closely at Old Trafford, but he will be looking to establish a more potent relationship with the esteemed Portuguese in Rome, as he continues to impress away from the Premier League spotlight. Smalling has started both Conference League games against CSKA-Sofia and Zorya Lugansk, so has certainly warmed up his legs for 2021/22, and having just watched Fikayo Tomori force his way back into the England squad across in Milan, Smalling may just be looking to get a run of games under his belt to maybe, just maybe, catch the eye of Gareth Southgate.
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