Serie A Week 23
7 Feb 2017 (19.45 UK)
Roma – Fiorentina
Stadio Olimpico

Roma vs Fiorentina Preview

Roma are aiming to bounce back from defeat to Sampdoria while Fiorentina are hoping to extend their five-match unbeaten streak as the two giants face off.

The Giallorossi suffered a major setback to their Scudetto hopes last Sunday, edged out by Sampdoria at Marassi despite taking the lead twice. Salt was rubbed into their wounds as they were harshly denied a late penalty on Edin Dzeko due to the assistant referee’s flag incorrectly being raised. Title challenges, however, are made by overcoming setbacks and now Luciano Spalletti’s men must show their resolve and get back in the winning groove. Much in-demand Greek centre-back Kostas Manolas was left out in Genoa, but will likely return to the backline here.

Fiorentina have performed below expectations this season and their Coach Paulo Sousa has suffered continued pressure and criticism from the Viola faithful, but his team have picked up of late and are now five unbeaten in Serie A, collecting 11 points along the way. Wednesday night saw them win their game in hand with a last-gasp victory over Pescara at the Stadio Adriatico and now the Florentines sit in seventh place within striking range of Lazio and Inter in the Europa League places.

Roma are expected to line up again in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Thomas Vermaelen likely to make way for Manolas. Elsewhere in the side, there are fitness doubts over Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy is poised to step in. Long- term injury victim Alessandro Florenzi is still unavailable. The title chasers must also cope without their Egyptian speed king Mohamed Salah, who is on duty at the African Cup of Nations Final. On the plus side, Spalletti’s side are suspension free for this testing assignment.

Fiorentina should match up with the Giallorossi in their own 3-4-2-1 formation and are boosted by the return from suspension of Davide Astori and Federico Bernardeschi. Coach Sousa has doubts over the fitness of Gonzalo Rodriguez, goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and star striker Nikola Kalinic. Senegalese front man Khouma Babacar will stand in for Kalinic if the Croatian is not available. New signing from Empoli, Riccardo Saponara, is still settling in with his new side and will likely start on the bench.

This is one for Calcio connoisseurs. Two well-prepared sides possessing a high technical level and a hunger to meet their own respective ambitions mean it’s hard to envisage this tie being anything other than a great spectacle.

Keep an eye on: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina) – The sky is the limit for the young Fantasista. He already has nine goals and four assists in Serie A this campaign and with excellent vision and ball-striking ability he is sure to add many more. Already capped seven times for his country at 22 years of age, he can be one of the future greats of Italian football.

Last season: Roma 4-1 Fiorentina

Stat fact: Roma are yet to drop a single point at home in Serie A this season. These sides haven’t shared the spoils in Rome since a 1-1 result in November 2005, followed by 11 Roma wins and three for the Viola between Serie A, the Coppa Italia and Europa League.

Roma (probable): Szczesny; Manolas, Fazio, Rudiger; Peres, De Rossi, Strootman, Emerson; Nainggolan, El Shaarawy; Dzeko

Suspended: None

Fiorentina (probable): Sportiello; Sanchez, Di Maio, Astori; Chiesa, Vecino, Badelj, Maxi Oliveira; Bernardeschi, Borja Valero; Kalinic

Suspended: None

Top tip: Roma to win and both teams to score.