Stadio Olimpico, Rome
March 01, 2014; 19:45 GMT
Rudi Garcia’s men play host to Inter in one of the many premier fixtures of the weekend. The Giallorossi come off the back of a narrow victory against Bologna and will look to keep the pressure on Juventus at the summit of the table by coming out with all three points. The visitors, on the other hand do not have much to play for as they currently lie 11 points adrift of third placed Napoli in race for Champions League qualification. The Nerazzurri, though will have some personal matters to settle as Mazzarri looks to avenge the 3-0 trouncing at the hands of their opponents at the San Siro back in September.
Team News and tactical brief
The home team currently lie six points adrift of the top with a game in hand and Rudi Garcia will look to sustain his team’s challenge for the Scudetto with
another three points against the visitors. The January signing of Rajda Naingollan has proven to be a success so far with the Belgian ably slotting into midfeld alongside the triumvirate of De Rossi, Pjanic and Kevin Strootman. Garcia has a lengthy list of players who will sit out this fixture either through suspension or injury, including the likes of Maicon and more importantly Gervinho, who has been one of the better players for the Giallorossi. Captain Fransesco Totti remains doubtful due to injury which means Mattia Destro is likely to continue his run up front.
The back four of Vasilis Torosidis, Leandro Castan, Mehdi Benatia and Alessio Romagnoli have been in imperious form all season conceding just 11 goals thus far and will look to continue their steady run of form against an Inter attack that have found goals hard to come by. In midfield, De Rossi will sit in front of the back four with Kevin Strootman playing the role of a box to box enforcer. Miralem Pjanic will shoulder the creative responsibilities in midfield and drive his team forward.
The attack is where the concern lies for Rudi Garcia. With both Gervinho and Fransesco Totti major doubts for the game, Michel Bastos may well get the nod on the left alongside Adem Ljajic with Mattia Destro leading the line. The hosts will look to constantly break down the flanks and exploit the spaces down Inter’s sides with both Jonathan and Nagatomo being susceptible to direct runners at them.
Likely starting XI – De Sanctis; Torosidis; Castan; Benatia; Romagnoli; De Rossi; Strootman; Pjanic; Ljajic; Bastos; Destro
With the season as good as over for the Nerazzurri, Mazzarri and his men will be out on avenging their 3-0 humiliation at the San Siro back in October.
Unlike their adversaries, the visitors have a near full squad for their trip to the capital with only defender Hugo Campagnaro missing the bus due to injury. Walter Samuel, Rolando and Juan Jesus are expected to start in central defense with Jonathan taking up the right flank and Nagatomo the left. In midfield, Kuzmanovic is likely to start alongisde Freddy Guarin and new signing Hernanes, who returns to the Olimpico for the first time since his deadline day move to San Siro last month. The Brazilian is likely to be the most advanced of the three with Freddy Guarin playing the box to box role and Zdavrko Kuzmanovic the anchor. In attack, the Argentine duo of Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio are likely to continue their partnership up-top for the visitors.
Roma this season have been one of the better teams exploiting the wings as a major outlet of their attacks. Though their top scorer Gervinho misses out with injury, the likes of Adem Ljajic and Michel Bastos could prove to be more than a handful for Nagatomo and Jonathan respectively and if the Nerazzurri are to stand any chance of coming out unscathed, containing the wingers must be of top priority for Walter Mazzarri. Besides, the trio in midfield must be at their best to contain the likes of Pjanic and Strootman from having a pronounced influence on the game.
Likely Starting XI – Handanovic; Jonathan; Rolando; Samuel; Juan; Nnagatomo; Kuzmanovic; Guarin; Hernanes; Milito; Palacio
Players to watch out for
Miralem Pjanic (Roma)
The Bosnian midfielder has been on top form since the start of the campaign, becoming one of the most influential figures in the starting XI. Given the absence of Gervinho and Totti, the onus will be on him to provide that extra bit of inspiration for his team to come out with all three points. How Mazzarri would be hoping for him to have a bad game!
Having already made a difference to a rather one-dimensional Inter at times, Hernanes will have it all to do on his return to the Olimpico. The Brazilian midfielder has already helped his side take all three points at the Artemo Franchi and much hopes will be pinned on him to repeat some of those heroics from two weeks back.
- Inter have won just 1 Serie A game in 2014 thus far
- Roma have won 5 of their last 6 games against Inter in all competitions
- Roma have won 11 of their last 13 home games in the Serie A
Roma 1-0 Inter
Not many would expect the Roma defence to concede tonight given their rock solid performances over the past few months. On the other hand, the Inter wing-backs could ultimately struggle to keep tabs on the Roma wing-play and that is where the home side could hurt the visitor.