A heavyweight contest at the Stadio Olimpico could have a decisive impact on a closely contested top-four race as AS Roma and Inter Milan go head-to-head in a crunch clash this Saturday.

AS Roma and Inter Milan will lock horns in Saturday’s super-exciting double-header between the Rome and Milan giants, as their clash will kick off shortly after the end of the AC Milan versus Lazio encounter.

Both matches will have a huge impact on the race for a top-four finish and a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season. Inter and Roma are separated by just two points despite being fourth and seventh, respectively, in the Serie A table.

Jose Mourinho’s troops are struggling coming into this super-important tie game off the back of a 1-1 draw at Monza in Serie A on Wednesday night. The hosts opened the scoring in the 24th minute, but their lead was short-lived as Monza equalised 15 minutes later. Roma went down to 10 men at the end of the game, resulting in a two-point drop in the race for the top four.

It was Jose Mourinho’s men’s third straight game without a win, as they continue to struggle in the final third without Paulo Dybala in the lineup. They will be keen to restore some confidence with a positive result against Inter, especially with the Europa League semi-final encounter against Bayer Leverkusen awaiting them next midweek.

In contrast, Inter Milan have been on a roll domestically and are in pole position to finish in the top four places, although the job is not done yet with five games to go in the current campaign.

The 6-0 demolition job on Verona on Wednesday was their third win in a row in the Italian top-tier. Simone Inzaghi’s red-hot attacking roster, which has notched 12 goals in the last three games, looks sharp in the final third and are capable of blowing away any Serie A side in current form.

Although AS Roma are in bad form overall, they can take encouragement from the fact that they defeated their Saturday’s opponents 2-1 in the reverse fixture. Ahead of this latest match-up between the two sides, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both teams.

Team News and Tactics

AS Roma

Midfielder Nemanja Matić missed the previous game due to suspension and is back available for this match. However, that’s the only positive news for Roma, whose injury crisis continues, with Marash Kumbulla picking up an ACL injury against Milan.

In addition to Kumbulla, Jose Mourinho will have to make do without the services of Andrea Belotti (ribs), Stephan El Shaarawy (hip), Giorginio Wijnaldum, Rick Karsdorp, and Diego Llorente, while Zeki Celik was sent off in the 96th minute of their draw against Monza, resulting in a ban for the Turkish wing-back. Paolo Dybala and Chris Smalling could make surprise returns to the fold here and feature off the bench.

The Portuguese manager is expected to start this game with the 3-4-2-1 formation, where Rui Patricio will be in between the sticks for the hosts. Gianluca Mancini, Bryan Cristante, and Roger Ibanez are likely to be the defensive trio for the Rome-based outfit.

Nicola Zalewski and Leonardo Spinazzola will start in the midfield four and play the roles of wingbacks. Veteran Nemanja Matic and 20-year-old midfielder Edoardo Bove will be the central midfielders in the double pivot, who will aim to find a solid footing against a much superior midfield.

Skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini and Ola Solbakken will play behind the striker as attacking midfielders. Tammy Abraham was instrumental for Roma last weekend, scoring his second goal in three league games. He will be looking to continue adding to his lowly tally of eight Serie A goals this season.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Zalewski, Matic, Bove, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Solbakken; Abraham

Inter Milan

Like his counterpart in the Roma dugout, manager Simone Inzaghi will have one eye on their European endeavours in the next week, with Inter facing Milan in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday. The difference is that Inzaghi almost has a full squad at his disposal other than the injured Milan Skriniar to rotate his lineup from.

Andre Onana will return in goal here after being rested on Wednesday, while there are likely to be a few changes in defence. Matteo Darmian and Alessandro Bastoni could replace D’Ambrosini and Francesco Acerbi on either side of Stefan de Vrij in the back three.

Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco should start in the wing-back spots and will be expected to provide width like wingers in this Simone system.

Hakan Calhanoglu, who scored a spectacular strike at the Bentegodi, should continue in midfield, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan likely to be rested against his former club. Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic will partner the Turkish playmaker to form a dynamic midfield trio.

Romelu Lukaku looked back to his best form after coming on as a substitute for Inter last weekend. Despite not scoring himself, he provided two assists, which should be enough to earn him a starting spot here. His strike partner, Lautaro Martinez, will look to continue his goalscoring feats against AS Roma.

Fresh from notching up a double in Wednesday’s humbling of Verona, Edin Dzeko will have to contend with a place on the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Onana; Darmian, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Martinez, Lukaku

Key Stats

  • AS Roma have scored at least once in all 14 home games since the winter break.
  • The Giallorossi have won only three of their last eight Serie A games but have a good record at home, having lost only one of their last 10 home league games.
  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in their last three away Serie A matches, having scored 11 goals in the previous three on the road.
  • Roma have not managed a clean sheet in their last three games in all competitions.
  • Inter are unbeaten in 11 of their last 13 games against Roma.

Player to watch

Tammy Abraham

Embed from Getty Images

Second-season syndrome truly hit Roma striker Tammy Abraham hard this season. The English forward excelled beyond all expectations in the Italian capital during his first season at the club, but his scoring form has been hot and cold the entire season.

However, he seems to be hitting his stride at the right moment to bolster Roma’s top-four charge, tallying a couple of goals and two assists in his last three Serie A appearances in front of his home fans. His aerial prowess, hold-up play, and sharp runs in behind make him a headache for Inter defenders.


AS Roma 0-1 Inter Milan

The stakes could not be higher as both teams fight tooth and nail to secure Champions League qualification for next season. While Roma are feeling the strain in the race to secure Champions League qualification, Inter Milan’s attackers have been cruising in the final third of late, as seen by their 6-0 annihilation of Verona in midweek. Lukaku has finally caught fire and is showing signs of that familiar chemistry with Martinez.

Expect a low-scoring game considering Roma’s home games are usually low-scoring affairs; however, Inter will believe they have the attacking quality to power through Dybala-less Roma on Saturday, albeit by the narrowest of margins, a result that would be a huge blow to the hosts’ Champions League ambitions.

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