AS Roma will make the 230km trip to Benevento (Campania) for the Sunday evening game against Benevento hoping to make it 3 wins in 7 days.
A top 4 finish in Serie A is a must for this Roma side and a win away at Benevento will go a long way to securing a top 4 finish and Champions League football for next season.
It has been an incredibly good week so far for AS Roma, a win last weekend against Udinese in the Sunday lunchtime game. That was followed up with another strong performance in the Europa League with a 2-0 away win in Braga, which put Roma in a strong position to qualify for the Round of 16 in the Europa League with two away goals.
The performance against Udinese last Sunday followed the pattern for most of Roma wins this season. Start strong in the first half and blow the opposition away with quick counter-attacking football which has been the marker of Roma season. The second half be a bit more conservative in play and pick up opponents when needed. It was a brilliant first-half performance with two quick goals from Jordan Veretout. Pedro added gloss to the scoreline with a late goal to seal the three points.
On Thursday in the Europa League, it was vital to get an early goal and that was pivotal to Roma success against Sporting Braga. Edin Dzeko scored early thanks to a great cross-in from the left from Leandro Spinazzola. Injuries in the backline hurt Roma in this game as both Bryan Cristante and Roger Ibanez picked up injuries and will be in doubt for the Sunday game at Benevento and the return leg against Braga on Thursday.
A bit of re-jigging from Paulo Fonseca worked as Roma were in control of this game, Braga went down to ten men after Ricardo Esgao was sent off for two yellow cards. Borja Mayoral scored with 4 minutes remaining and it was what Roma deserved, they had two goals previously ruled out for offside via VAR. Roma capitalized on Braga’s high defensive line with ease and scored with a brilliant second goal with quick slick fast football played between the lines and with devastation. Fonseca ball at its finest.
To win in Portugal against a very good Sporting Braga side who are third in Liga Nos with the defensive problems and re-jigging was outstanding. At the end of the game, you had a back three of Rick Karsdorp (RWB) Gianluca Mancini and, Leandro Spinazzola (LWB). Jordan Veretout who plays in the center of midfield was filling in the RWB role.
Benevento are in 16th place in the Serie A standings with 24 points from 22 games and sit just 9 points ahead of Cagliari who occupy the last relegation place. It has been a tough last 5 weeks for Filippo Inzaghi‘s side who are winless in the last 6 games, 3 defeats and 3 draws, the last win came on Epiphany on the 6th January away at Cagliari 2-1.
Three heavy defeats against Atalanta and Crotone followed both 4-1. A demoralizing 2-2 draw at home to Torino where Benevento were 2-0 up put were pegged back in stoppage time thanks to an equaliser from Simone Zaza. Inter Milan comfortably dispatched Inzaghi side at the San Siro. The last two Serie A games have seen back-to-back 1-1 draws against Bologna and Sampdoria.
It was a great end to 2020 for Benevento with the last three games of the year seeing Inzaghi side pick up 7 points from 9. But 2021 has seen Benevento pick up 1 win in 8 Serie A games and they are now looking over their shoulder and could be sucked into a relegation battle.
Filippo Inzaghi has switched his tactics in recent weeks to find the right balance on the pitch and to stop the poor form on the pitch. At the start of the season, he stuck with the 4-3-3 and was getting great results on the pitch. Since the turn of the year, Inzaghi has tinkered with his formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-3-2-1 and in recent games switched to a 3-5-2.
The key players to watch out for in the Benevento side are firstly former AS Roma youth team player Gianluca Caprari. The 27-year-old attacker is having a strong campaign for Benevento this season, in 19 league appearances, Caprari has been involved in 8 goals with 5 goals and 3 assists. Gianluca Caprari favours the left-hand side of attack and that is where he has found his success this season. He will be looking to add to his goal tally this season against his former employers.
The second and final player to keep an eye out for in this Benevento side is Italian-born Peruvian international Gianluca Lapadula. In the 22 league appearances this season, Lapadula has been involved in 7 goals with 4 goals and 3 assists. He has already scored against AS Roma this season in Roma 5-2 home win after having a penalty saved from Antonio Mirante, Lapdaula pounced and scored on the rebound. He will be a constant thorn in Roma patched-up defense and will be looking to cause problems.
PREDICTED XI BENEVENTO (4-3-2-1)
Montipo, Depaoli, Tuia, Glik, Barba, Hetemaj, Schiattarella, Viola, Ionita, Caprari, Lapadula
PREDICTED XI ROMA (3-4-2-1)
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Fazio, Spinazzola, Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Bruno Peres, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Borja Mayoral.
AS Roma will be looking to add to Benevento woes on Sunday night and make it a hat-trick of wins this week. It’s vital to end the week strong and go into a busy schedule in the next few weeks. The return leg of Sporting Braga is to come later in the week and games at home to AC Milan and away to Fiorentina to follow.