After a winning start last week, Roma return to Stadio Olimpico for their first home game of the season, as Cremonese visit the capital on Monday.
While the Giallorossi saw off Salernitana in their opening fixture, their visitors were unfortunate to be denied a point upon their Serie A return.
Having embarked on an eye-catching recruitment drive during the summer break, Roma got their 2022-23 campaign under way against Salernitana last Sunday, expecting to claim maximum points against their southern rivals.
Following a sixth-placed finish in Serie A last season, and winning the Europa Conference League, Jose Mourinho‘s side started out with a win, but only by the slimmest of margins – through Bryan Cristante‘s first-half strike.
Star signing Paulo Dybala made his debut alongside last term’s top scorer Tammy Abraham and Nicolo Zaniolo up front, while Georginio Wijnaldum emerged from the bench as the Giallorossi came out on top at Stadio Arechi.
That first-day success followed victories in Roma’s final two friendlies of the summer, in which they defeated both Tottenham Hotspur and Shakhtar Donetsk without conceding a goal, and having maintained a record of avoiding defeat in Serie A season openers since 2011, they now turn towards a home game against promoted opponents.
Set to face likely top-four rivals Juventus next weekend, Mourinho will want his men to take full advantage of the newcomers’ vulnerabilities, as they meet Cremonese in the top flight for the first time since February 1996.
Monday’s visitors have won only one of seven Serie A matches against their Roman hosts at the Olimpico, and have just returned to the top tier of Calcio after 26 years away.
Cremonese’s seven previous openers in the Italian elite had ended in losses before they visited Fiorentina last weekend, and despite a brave effort, last term’s Serie B runners-up were beaten again at Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Holding their heavily-fancied hosts at 2-2 heading into second-half stoppage time – having played nearly an hour with 10 men – the Grigiorossi were denied even a point when Rolando Mandragora snatched a 95th-minute winner for the Viola, with a little help from hapless goalkeeper Ionut Radu.
No doubt in part due to Gonzalo Escalante‘s first-half dismissal, Massimiliano Alvini‘s men struggled to keep the home side at bay and faced a total of 28 shots (11 on target); the highest such totals across Serie A.
Following the resignation of promotion-winning coach Fabio Pecchia in May, Alvini’s arrival had seen the Lombardy side start well: following four wins from five in pre-season, Cremonese then progressed in the Coppa Italia with a 3-2 win over Ternana.
However, faced with two tough away matches to kick off their comeback campaign, as their Stadio Giovanni Zini undergoes renovations, they may need to wait until their first home fixture next week to target three points.
Jose Mourinho has suffered a blow to his plans ahead of Monday’s game, as Georginio Wijnaldum has sustained a leg fracture in training and will be out of action for several months.
Though Nicola Zalewski is now available, Leonardo Spinazzola should continue on the left flank of a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Nicolo Zaniolo, Tammy Abraham and Paulo Dybala again occupying the final third. Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini takes a deeper role alongside Bryan Cristante or Nemanja Matic.
Last season in Serie A, Abraham scored at least one goal against each of the three promoted sides, and the English striker will be looking to get off the mark on Monday, after netting 27 goals during his first season in Rome.
Meanwhile, Cremonese midfielder Gonzalo Escalante – currently on loan from Lazio – misses out on a return to Stadio Olimpico due to his red card last week; fellow Argentinian Santiago Ascacibar should step into the visitors’s starting XI.
Up front, David Okereke – who scored on his league debut last week – found the net in both games against Roma last year for now-relegated Venezia.
Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Matic, Pellegrini, Spinazzola; Dybala; Zaniolo, Abraham
Cremonese possible starting lineup:
Radu; Bianchetti, Vasquez, Chiriches; Ghiglione, Ascacibar, Pickel, Sernicola; Zanimacchia; Dessers, Okereke