The last few matchdays Roma has had the luxury of knowing that at least a few of its direct rivals would drop points because of head-to-head match-ups between aspiring Champions League qualifiers. The Giallorossi took full advantage of the situation two weeks ago by defeating Udinese, but a draw against Benevento last weekend wasn’t quite as useful.
All eyes will be on the nation’s capital on Sunday evening when Roma hosts Milan in a clash of top four challengers. In the match with Milan, the Giallorossi will look to take advantage of a stumbling side and cut the deficit to two points for second in the table. A win would go a long way in solidifying Roma’s UCL hopes. However, a loss could spell disaster considering just how tight places two through seven are in the table.
Every point counts!— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) February 22, 2021
The updated #SerieATIM League Table after Matchday 2️⃣3️⃣. #WeAreCalcio pic.twitter.com/a8AI1b5hRr
By the time Roma plays on Sunday night, it’s possible that the Giallorossi could be sitting sixth provisionally, depending on the results attained by the other UCL challengers. That would add to the pressure on Paulo Fonseca’s side. So, let’s peruse the peninsula and see how likely Roma’s top four rivals are to amp up the pressure on Roma and Milan ahead of Sunday’s match.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 24 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match of the Week
Inter Milan (1st place) vs Genoa (11th place) Sunday 9:00 EST
Just a few months ago this match would’ve been considered a walkover for the Nerazzurri. Antonio Conte’s side will enter this one riding high after demolishing its city rivals in the Derby della Madonnina. As a result, the Nerazzurri now sit four points ahead of their city rivals at the top of the table and nine ahead of fourth place Roma.
The first meeting between these two sides saw Inter leave the Marassi 2-0 winners behind goals from Lukaku and D’Ambrosio. However, Genoa has been a transformed side under Davide Ballardini and should be a much tougher out this time around. For their part, the Grifoni are unbeaten in their last seven in the league; including a win over Napoli and a draw with Atalanta.
The Nerazzurri will be heavily favored at home, but this could be a classic trap game if Inter is still experiencing derby hangover.
Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Bologna (12th place) vs Lazio (6th place): Saturday 12:00 EST
The Biancoceleste have been in fine form in the league—winning seven of their last eight. However, Simone Inzaghi’s side was humbled on Tuesday in the Champions League by Bayern Munich 4-1. So, it’ll be interesting to see if Lazio is able to bounce back from such a heavy defeat.
The trip to Bologna won’t be as easy of a task as table positions seem to indicate. The first time these two sides met at the Olimpico, Lazio took all three points in 2-1 win. However, it was a hard-fought victory that saw the Rossoblu take 21 total shots.
Bologna has plenty of attacking talent that could make Lazio pay if the Biancoceleste defend the way they did on Tuesday. Roma will hope that things play out that way, as its city rivals are just a point behind the Giallorossi.
Hellas Verona (9th place) vs Juventus (3rd place): Saturday 14:45 EST
The Bianconeri again leapfrogged Roma last week and will try to maintain third position by taking care of business in Verona against Hellas. Juve seems to be rounding into form at the right time considering the recent slip-ups by Milan and are likely now the biggest threat to Inter Milan’s title hopes.
The Bianconeri enter having kept shutouts in four of their last five league matches. But, they will come up against a comparably stout Hellas defense, despite a recent slip in form from the Mastiffs. And Verona should come in with plenty of confidence.
You may be wondering why. Well, Verona has had some recent success against Andrea Pirlo’s side. Hellas pulled out a point back in the two sides’ first meeting back in October. And on top of that Verona has taken four points in its last two against the champs and won two of its last three home matches against Juve. So, this could be one to keep an eye on.
Roma will hope that Ivan Juric’s team can again find a result against Juve to help the Giallorossi erase the one-point gap for third.
Sampdoria (10th place) vs Atalanta (5th place): Sunday 6:30 EST
Outside of Inter, not many teams had a better weekend than Atalanta. La Dea hammered direct rivals Napoli 4-2 and made up ground on Roma and Milan in the process. However, things didn’t go quite as well midweek against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
La Dea received a harsh red card early in the match that saw Gasperini’s side reduced to 10 men and left them chasing the match. In the process, star striker Duvan Zapata left with a leg injury. One has to wonder what effect the extra workload on the short-handed side could have on Sunday against Sampdoria.
The Blucerchiati have been solid throughout the season under Claudio Ranieri, which is reflected in their table position. And since 2017/18 Samp has won four matches against La Dea (4-1-2), which is the joint most in the league in that time period. Atalanta could be ripe for the picking in this one considering the midweek events and Samp will look to replicate its 3-1 victory over La Dea from the fall. That’s something that Roma—which leads Atalanta by one point—would appreciate very much.
Napoli (7th place) vs Benevento (15th place): Saturday 9:00 EST
Napoli enters this one struggling mightily. After upsetting Juve two weeks ago, things have again gone downhill for Gennaro Gattuso. The Partenopei were eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Granda over two legs and hammered by Atalanta in the league.
Benevento might look like a perfect rebound side for Gattuso’s side. But, as Roma can attest to, the Sorcerers can be tough to play against. Pippo Inzaghi’s side has drawn its last three matches and would love a similar result in the all Campania match-up.
The first match between these two sides saw the Insigne brothers, Roberto and Lorenzo, cancel each other out before Petagna scored a winner. We’ll see if Benevento can take advantage of a wounded Napoli side to achieve a better result this time around.
- Spezia (16th place) vs Parma (19th place) - Saturday 9:00 EST
- Crotone (20th place) vs Cagliari (18th place)- Sunday 9:00 EST
- Udinese (13th place) vs Fiorentina (14th place) - Sunday 9:00 EST
- Torino (17th place) vs Sassuolo (8th place) - PPD due to virus concerns
Which top seven side is most likely to be upset this weekend?
This poll is closed
Inter vs Genoa
Juve vs Hellas
Lazio vs Bologna
Napoli vs Benevento
Atalanta vs Sampdoria