Benevento VS AS Roma, go for away

Match Time:2/22/2021 03:45 Monday  (GMT+8)

Italian Serie A --  Benevento   VS   AS Roma

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Seeking a third victory in just over a week, Roma travel to out-of-form Benevento on Sunday, as two very different clubs meet at Stadio Ciro Vigorito.

Domestic and continental successes, over Udinese and Braga, have boosted the Giallorossi's morale after another high-profile defeat against a title rival, so they will be firm favourites ahead of kickoff in Campania.

 

Match preview

Effectively completing his reintegration into the fold, erstwhile Roma captain Edin Dzeko netted the opening goal on Thursday evening, as his side took a commanding two-goal advantage away from their Europa League last-32 first-leg tie with Liga NOS high-flyers Braga.

Having fallen foul of coach Paulo Fonseca last month, the Bosnian marksman appeared set to be heading out of the club he has served so well during the transfer window, but a potential switch to Inter fell through and Dzeko got back on track by slotting in Leonardo Spinazzola's pinpoint cross to help Roma set one foot in the last 16.

Fonseca's strategy of fielding Spanish starlets such as Borja Mayoral and Gonzalo Villar in Europe's second-tier continental competition has served to offer them valuable match experience while some of the Giallorossi's veterans received a beneficial midweek rest.

Much has changed since the autumn's group stage campaign though, as both Mayoral and Villar have used that platform to move up the pecking order, at the expense of Dzeko and injury-hit winger Pedro.

Both younger men lined up in the capital club's 3-0 dismissal of mid-table Udinese last Sunday, though Pedro did take his opportunity to score a stoppage-time goal from the bench, and whichever combination of talent takes to the field versus Benevento this time out will expect to make hay against one of Serie A's leakiest defences.

Not only form but precedent is heavily in Roma's favour ahead of the Sunday evening kickoff, as they have won each of the two clubs' three previous top-flight meetings, with an aggregate score of 14-4 and at least four goals plundered in each encounter. Furthermore, the Giallorossi are the team to have won the most consecutive games against newly-promoted teams in Serie A history - currently 26 - and have remarkably scored in 53 league games in a row against such opponents.

In the face of such stark statistics, and though their points total still exceeds expectations at this stage of the campaign, Serie B champions Benevento have struggled since the turn of the year and are now winless in six straight games.

Bidding to snap out of their downward spiral this weekend, the Streghe drew 1-1 with Bologna last time out - having recorded the same result against Sampdoria in their previous fixture - and have suffered as a result of conceding too many goals recently. In that six-match spell without a victory, Pippo Inzaghi's side have leaked 16 goals at an average of more than two-and-a-half per game.

Always with an eye on going forward, Benevento unsurprisingly hold the third-worst defensive record in Serie A, with 42 goals conceded in total - only Parma and Crotone have let in more. An awful start to the calendar year has therefore contributed to a haul of only 10 points from 11 games, with their last victory coming in late December, against Genoa.

Sinking to 15th place as a result, Inzaghi's men are still nine points clear of the drop zone but must start to arrest their dip in form if they are to avoid a survival scrap in the spring.

While their defensive frailties are nothing new, it is in a previously potent attack where the Campanian side are now lacking. Both Gianluca Lapadula and fellow forward Gianluca Caprari enjoyed a hot streak of form back in the autumn, but their goal supply has seriously dried up in recent weeks.

Top scorer Caprari, a former Roma player, has previously scored three goals against his old side in Serie A - including one in the reverse fixture, which ended in a thumping 5-2 win for Paulo Fonseca's side last October. Having not found the target in his last three outings though, the Rome-born striker would love nothing more than proving his worth against the club where his career began.

 

Benevento Serie A form: LLDLDD

Roma Serie A form: DLWWLW

Roma form (all competitions): LWWLWW

 

Team News

Roma could have only one senior centre-back available this weekend, after losing Bryan Cristante and Roger Ibanez to injury during the Europa League jaunt to Braga. Cristante limped off just 10 minutes into the game and is unlikely to recover in time, while Ibanez had to be substituted in the second half due to a thigh strain.

Causing a serious defensive headache for Paulo Fonseca, other options Chris Smalling, Marash Kumbulla, Davide Santon and Riccardo Calafiori are also out of action, leaving just Gianluca Mancini and potentially outcast Federico Fazio fit to start on Sunday.

After an impressive outing in midweek, Amadou Diawara is pushing for a place in midfield, with Borja Mayoral and Edin Dzeko duelling for the central striker's spot.

Benevento will be without both Gaetano Letizia and Perparim Hetemaj, as they have yet to recover from injury, but otherwise have a fully fit squad.

Nicolas Viola came in to cover the suspensions of Artur Ionita and Riccardo Improta in midfield last week and scored the equaliser, so could retain a starting spot, while Fabio Depaoli should continue in place of Letizia at full-back.

Loan signing Adolfo Gaich is likely to be kept in reserve by Pippo Inzaghi, with Gianluca Lapadula, Gianluca Caprari and one of Roberto Insigne or ex-Roma forward Iago Falque forming the attacking trident for the home side.

 

Benevento possible starting lineup:

Montipo; Depaoli, Glik, Tuia, Barba; Ionita, Schiattarella, Viola; Insigne, Caprari; Lapadula

Roma possible starting lineup:

Lopez; Mancini, Fazio, Spinazzola; Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Peres; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Mayoral

 

Benevento 1-3 Roma

 

Benevento VS AS Roma, go for away

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