Though their struggles in Europe continue, Roma return to Serie A duty against Sampdoria on Monday aiming for a third straight league win.
While the hosts remain winless and rock-bottom of the standings, Jose Mourinho’s men sat just four points off top spot following last week’s ninth round, which brought them a 2-1 win over Lecce.
As the inaugural Europa Conference League champions, Roma may have hoped stepping up a tier in continental competition would prove a mere breeze, but so far this season they have failed to fire in the Europa League.
Despite Andrea Belotti’s equaliser earning them a valuable point at Real Betis on Thursday, the Giallorossi trail behind the La Liga side and Bulgarian champions Ludogorets in the race for a place in the knockout phase, with just two Group C matchdays left to make up lost ground.
Their midweek fixture in Seville was Roma’s first since talisman Paulo Dybala suffered a setback that threatens to keep him sidelined for several weeks. Curiously, ‘La Joya’ sustained a thigh injury in the act of scoring his team’s winner against Lecce last week, as he kept cool to net the hosts’ second goal at Stadio Olimpico.
Though they allowed Gabriel Strefezza to equalise last time out, no side has taken the lead in more Serie A matches this season without dropping a point from in front, and Roma’s tally of six in that regard demonstrates the improved mentality fostered by their wily head coach.
Having overcome a horrendous record against other members Calcio’s ‘big six’, by beating Mourinho’s old employers Inter a week previously, they now seek a third domestic win on the spin when they arrive at Marassi.
Set to go head-to-head with a fellow hero of the Nerazzurri’s 2010 treble-winning campaign, the Portuguese tactician also has precedent on his side: Roma have won five of their last eight league matches against Sampdoria, including their last trip to Genoa in April, when a goal from Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured maximum points.
In all, Sampdoria are winless throughout their last six Serie A meetings with Roma, and will host their counterparts from the capital amid a crisis that sees them anchored to the foot of the table and yet to taste victory in the league.
Following last week’s 1-1 draw at Bologna, Samp are enduring their longest success-free streak in the Italian elite since 2006, and it is now a total of 10 matches since they last took all three points.
A 3-0 humbling at the hands of Monza prompted the Ligurian club’s board to sack Marco Giampaolo earlier this month, but new coach Dejan Stankovic has barely had time to get his feet under the table before facing down his former Inter boss for the first time as a manager.
Sampdoria have only kept a first-half clean sheet once in Serie A this season, which highlights a fragility within the ageing squad inherited by the Serbian, who enjoyed a successful spell at Red Star Belgrade before accepting the challenge of breathing life into the ailing Blucerchiati.
Already four points behind 17th-placed Bologna after nine rounds, if they are to avoid relegation, Samp cannot continue their inexorable decline: they have not only endured their worst start ever to a top-flight campaign but have also lost 19 of 28 games throughout 2022.
With top scorer Paulo Dybala now consigned to the treatment room as he battles to be fit in time for the World Cup, Roma are expected to deploy captain Lorenzo Pellegrini in a more advanced position, with Andrea Belotti retaining his place up front.
Belotti has previously scored nine Serie A goals against Sampdoria, his joint-most against any opponent, but has not netted against them at Marassi since November 2018.
Again without Zeki Celik and long-term absentee Georginio Wijnaldum due to injury, Jose Mourinho will have Nicolo Zaniolo back at his disposal on Monday, following suspension in the Europa Conference League. Should the Italy forward be included, struggling striker Tammy Abraham would drop to the bench.
Meanwhile, ahead of Dejan Stankovic’s first match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, the home side face a reshuffle in defence: Colombian defender Jeison Murillo sustained a hamstring injury last week and is set to be sidelined until December.
Harry Winks has returned to full training, but will have to wait a while longer for his Sampdoria debut; Tomas Rincon and Ronaldo Vieira should therefore join forces in midfield.
Stankovic’s fellow Serbian Filip Djuricic has been directly involved in four goals during his last four league matches against Roma and also scored Samp’s equaliser against Bologna last time out.
Sampdoria possible starting lineup:
Audero; Bereszynski, Ferrari, Colley, Augello; Rincon, Vieira; Gabbiadini, Sabiri, Djuricic; Caputo
Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Zalewski, Cristante, Camara, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Zaniolo; Belotti