AS Roma stopped the rot at the weekend with a spirited 0-0 draw at home to Napoli which ended Napoli winning streak to start the season. Roma travel to Sardinia looking to take on second-bottom Cagliari looking for a first away win in four games.
As I stated in the Napoli preview, I was not looking forward to the game on Sunday evening. I had this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that Napoli were going to win comfortably at the Olimpico as they did in the previous meeting in March. Boy was I happy to be proven wrong.
I was so impressed with the way that Roma played and defended against the best side in Serie A this season. Napoli have started wonderfully in Serie A this season under new coach Luciano Spalletti and they deserve all the credit from the plaudits. Roma dug deep with Jose Mourinho barking out instructions and deflecting the attention onto himself rather than on the players.
Roma’s defence was outstanding, both centre-backs did an excellent job keeping Victor Osimhen quiet. He has been lethal in front of goal for Napoli this season. Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez did an excellent job in keeping the former Lille striker quiet and nullifying Napoli’s potent threat.
A massive shout out to the much-maligned Bryan Cristante who had an excellent game in the center of midfield. Cristante gets a lot of stick-on social media from us Roma fans, but on Sunday he really proved a lot of people wrong. He broke up play brilliantly and his distribution from midfield was excellent.
Marash Kumbulla, one of the five players who were on the naughty step after Bodo/Glimt 6-1 win over Roma last Thursday has been called up to the squad. Gonzalo Villar, Bryan Reynolds, Amadou Diawara, and Borja Mayoral have not been called up to the squad to travel to Sardinia.
PREDICTED XI | ROMA (4-2-3-1)
Rui Patricio, Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina, Veretout, Cristante, Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Abraham.
Cagliari have had a poor start to the 2021/22 Serie A season, Walter Mazzarri’s side are in 19th place with six points from nine games. Genoa are ahead of Cagliari on goal difference. Cagliari have only won one game this season and that was in game 8 of the season which was a home win over Sampdoria. Brazilian talisman Joao Pedro was the star in the game for Cagliari with two goals. At the weekend Cagliari travelled to Florence to take on Fiorentina and were beaten 3-0. That was Cagliari’s 5th defeat of the season so far from nine games.
The win over Sampdoria has been the bright spark in a very dour start to the season. Leonardo Semplici did a wonderful job in keeping Cagliari up last season after Eusebio Di Francesco was relieved of his duties in February 2021. Semplici was sacked after the opening three games where Cagliari only picked up one point from a possible nine. Walter Mazzarri was brought in on a 3-year deal which seemed quite strange as that is a long contract to give to a manager who has been out of the game for close to 21 months after being sacked as Torino coach in February 2020.
PREDICTED XI | CAGLIARI (3-5-2)
Cragno, Godin, Ceppitelli, Carboni, Zappa, Grassi, Marin, Deiola, Lykogiannis, Joao Pedro. Keita Balde.
Cagliari have the 12th best home record in Serie A this season against Roma who have the 4th worst away record this season. Roma have really struggled on their travels this season, just one victory from four games which was the win in Salerno against Salernitana.
Roma have lost the last three away while Cagliari have picked up four points from nine in the last three home games. This is the perfect opportunity for Roma to put the bad-away form behind them and put in a professional performance in Sardinia against a side who is struggling in the relegation zone.