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Apr 22, 2021 at 5.30pm UK
AtalantaAtalanta BC
Cristante (75')
Calafiori (31'), Villar (47'), Ibanez (90+3')
Ibanez (90+4')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Malinovskyi (26')
Gosens (52')
Gosens (69')

Preview: Roma vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Roma vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Serie A clash between Roma and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following contrasting results at the weekend, reeling Roma welcome red-hot Atalanta to Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, with their domestic form taking an ill-timed nosedive while the visitors have won five on the spin.

A hard-earned success against Juventus on Sunday sees Gian Piero Gasperini's team pressing Milan for a top-two finish, as Roma slipped out of contention for Champions League qualification with a third loss in five.

Match preview

In overcoming outgoing champions Juventus with an uncharacteristically conservative display last time out - brushing past the Bianconeri into third - Atalanta continued their almost unstoppable form in domestic competition, having won nine of their last 10 Serie A games.

As their lone setback in that spell came in a 1-0 defeat to leaders Inter, next month's Coppa Italia finalists have gone from strength to strength in 2021.

Their array of attacking stars have hit their straps of late, as Ukrainian creator Ruslan Malinovskyi scored the deflected winner against Juve and has provided five assists in his last four appearances, while Colombian striker Duvan Zapata has joined top-scoring compatriot Luis Muriel in returning to the peak of his powers - netting four goals in as many games.

Having struggled for opportunities earlier this term amid fierce competition in La Dea's lavish offensive department, Malinovskyi - renowned for his thunderous left-footed strikes - is currently ranked fourth on the list of assist-making midfielders in the top five European leagues this calendar year.

His side will not only relish taking on a downtrodden Roma outfit this Thursday - with the two clubs' fortunes heading in opposite directions - but can reflect on some serious superiority in this fixture in recent times.

Atalanta have won each of their last three league games against the capital club and only once in their last 12 league meetings have they lost. Even more pertinently, the Bergamaschi are unbeaten in their last six away games in Rome.

Clearly struggling to balance domestic duties with their more successful continental commitments since the Europa League's return in February, Roma's downturn hit a new low on Sunday, as they crashed to a 3-1 defeat against relegation-threatened Torino.

Such below-par domestic displays have made remaining in the mix for a top-four finish an outside shot at best, as the Giallorossi now trail fourth-placed Juventus by eight points with seven games to play and have both city rivals Lazio and Napoli also ahead of them in the running.

Head coach Paulo Fonseca has seen his future openly called into question this month, as his team's double-edged season - with their league campaign faltering while they keep the Italian flag flying as the only Serie A side still standing in Europe - has not impressed the Roma hierarchy.

One of the chief criticisms levelled at the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss has been his inability to secure positive results against their top-seven rivals and, as injuries continue to pile up ahead of a two-legged semi-final with Manchester United scheduled to start next week, he will have to field an improvised selection once more.

Though only leaders Inter have lost fewer home games than Roma this term, as they prepare to face another major rival, their two losses have both come in the course of their last four outings at the Olimpico.

Fonseca will surely require an improvement from his ailing attack if they are to avoid a third home reverse on Thursday, as Roma have scored the joint-fewest league goals since the start of March and can hardly hope to keep out a rampant Atalanta side.

Roma Serie A form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Roma form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Atalanta BC Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Though Lorenzo Pellegrini is back from suspension for Roma, his midfield colleague Amadou Diawara must now serve a ban following a red card in the defeat against Torino.

Paulo Fonseca's concerns continue further forward, as Pedro sustained a thigh problem on Sunday and will be assessed ahead of the game and winger Leonardo Spinazzola will be a late call after missing out last time with a thigh strain. Furthermore, Stephan El Shaarawy also has a thigh problem to contend with.

Injury-hit defender Chris Smalling continues to struggle with recurrent knee and thigh injuries, so Gianluca Mancini should be drafted back into the heart of the hosts' defence, while gifted playmakers Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Javier Pastore continue their returns from injury layoffs of varying lengths and the former will start.

Atalanta have far fewer issues to contend with ahead of the trip south, as Cristian Romero returns from suspension after missing out against his parent club at the weekend, so could come straight back in for Rafael Toloi in a three-man defence.

Meanwhile, wing-back Hans Hateboer has re-joined training after a month out with injury but is not yet ready to feature. In the Dutch international's absence, Joakim Maehle should remain on the right of midfield, with 10-goal Robin Gosens on the left.

Prolific strikers Luis Muriel (18 goals) and Duvan Zapata (13) may start in attack, though Gian Piero Gasperini would revert to fielding a single centre-forward if he sets La Dea up in their previously favoured 3-4-2-1 formation - in which case Josip Ilicic would be expected to start.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Calafiori; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Palomino, Romero, Djimsiti; Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Malinovskyi, Ilicic; Zapata

We say: Roma 1-2 Atalanta BC

Roma's record against the big boys of Serie A has been dubious throughout Paulo Fonseca's reign and particularly so this term. Though the Giallorossi have put together a largely impressive home run in 2020-21, the Olimpico has been less of a fortress of late.

As Atalanta have proved they can win games in more ways than just their customary all-out attacking mode, they can see their abundance of pace and guile in attack punish the home side's absent-minded defence on several occasions.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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