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May 9, 2021 at 5pm UK
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Preview: Roma vs. Crotone - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Following a tumultuous week on and off the pitch, an ailing Roma side look to salvage their season with maximum points against Serie B-bound Crotone on Sunday.

Having crashed and burned in the first leg of a European semi-final - before firing their coach and hiring Jose Mourinho to great fanfare - the hosts halted a run of three straight defeats with a win in midweek, while their Calabrian counterparts previously lost to new champions Inter; seeing their relegation formally confirmed.

Match preview

A particularly eventful episode in the Eternal City has seen seventh-placed Roma pull the trigger, as embattled manager Paulo Fonseca was told he would leave at the end of the season to be replaced by his more illustrious countryman Jose Mourinho - still a legendary figure in Serie A for his role in Inter's historic treble over a decade ago.

Having stumbled through a run of six games without a win, the Giallorossi did finally pick up a consolation success against Manchester United on Thursday, but ultimately came out of their Europa League semi-final tie with a humbling 8-5 aggregate loss.

Still deep in the midst of their worst streak of the season and with their coach's exit from the club now formalised, Roma must recover from a devastating domestic downturn - with last Sunday's 2-0 reverse at mid-table Sampdoria following a 3-2 defeat against relegation battlers Cagliari seven days earlier.

With those results coming after previously being overturned by Torino - another team at the wrong end of the league standings - Fonseca will be keen to go out on a relative high by at least securing a return to continental competition next season.

His side, however, have won only one of their last eight league games in what has proved a season of two halves; recently losing two of their last five home league matches - as many defeats as they suffered in 21 previous games on home territory.

Illustrating the source of their downfall, Roma have scored only 29% of their Serie A goals this season in the second half of the campaign - the lowest ratio in the league. When allied to an already error and injury prone defence, star striker Edin Dzeko's loss of form and fitness has made for a disastrous outcome for the ambitious capital club.

Rock-bottom Crotone, then, would seem the ideal opponents this weekend, but the Giallorossi's current trend against bottom-half sides suggests that further embarrassment may not be out of the question.

Even considering the opposition's grim recent fortunes, Crotone travel to Stadio Olimpico more in hope than expectation, as they have lost each of their five Serie A meetings with Roma, scoring only a solitary goal in the process.

The Squali also lost this season's reverse fixture 3-1 back in January, before their capital counterparts went into a tailspin during the spring, so will be wary of an opposition perhaps motivated by impressing incoming boss Mourinho before he takes up his planned three-year residency in the Roma dugout.

Currently coached by Serse Cosmi, the modest Calabrian outfit saw their demotion after one season back in the top flight confirmed by defeat to irrepressible Inter at Stadio Ezio Scida last Saturday. It came as no surprise to by far the worst defensive side throughout Europe's top five leagues, as they have leaked goals in epic proportions - never more so than in recent weeks.

Despite the attacking trio of Simy - the club's top scorer - elusive winger Adam Ounas and captain Junior Messias sparking into life of late, a total of 47 goals at either end in their ten most recent fixtures has illustrated the haphazard approach taken by Crotone to fighting for survival.

Conceding 85 league goals in all - with 51 during their 17 away games coming at an alarming rate of three per game - puts them in jeopardy of going down having let in a triple figure tally. To drop out of the elite with dignity, the Squali will look to keep wounded Roma at bay this weekend, before a relatively kind remaining fixture list to close their campaign.

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

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

Crotone Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Roma's current woes extend to the treatment table, as alongside suspended centre-back Gianluca Mancini, Sunday's hosts will be missing his injury-plagued defensive colleague Chris Smalling - who suffered a new thigh problem against former club Manchester United in midweek - and Federico Fazio (tonsilitis), while wing-back Bruno Peres also had to be withdrawn prematurely.

Having previously confirmed that first-choice goalkeeper Pau Lopez will miss the remainder of the season - requiring surgery after damaging his shoulder in the first leg of Roma's semi-final defeat - veteran stopper Antonio Mirante is expected to start at the Olimpico, though third-choice Daniel Fuzato was preferred last weekend.

Outgoing coach Paulo Fonseca can at least call upon veteran forward Pedro, as the former Chelsea man returned from a thigh strain on Thursday, but Amadou Diawara (groin), Gonzalo Villar, Riccardo Calafiori and Carles Perez (all thigh) could still be sidelined.

In addition, midfield regulars Jordan Veretout and Leonardo Spinazzola - both further thigh strain sufferers - are considered unlikely to return before the end of the season. Therefore, Davide Santon could line up on the left flank, with Bryan Cristante continuing in midfield, after being deployed as a centre-back for much of the 2020-21 campaign.

By contrast, only stalwart midfielder Luca Cigarini (toe) and wing-back Arkadiusz Reca (calf) - who both came off injured in Crotone's last game against Inter - are considered minor doubts for the visitors, though the pair returned to training late in the week and should feature at some stage.

With nothing left to lose, and sensing an upset against a stumbling giant, coach Serse Cosmi will persist with his recent attacking outlook, as 19-goal striker Simy is supported in the Squali attack by Adam Ounas and Junior Messias.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Mirante; Kumbulla, Jesus, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Pellegrini, Santon; Pedro, Mkhitaryan; Mayoral

Crotone possible starting lineup:
Cordaz; Djidji, Golemic, Magallan; Pereira, Benali, Cigarini, Messias, Molina; Ounas, Simy

We say: Roma 3-1 Crotone

Even if they are faltering badly at the end of a long and arduous campaign at home and abroad, injury-hit Roma still possess enough final-third quality to breach Crotone's dubious defence on multiple occasions at the Olimpico.

Back-to-back wins could boost the Giallorossi's hopes of a European return, having given a better account of themselves on Thursday, so expect a clash of one of Calcio's best home sides against Serie A's worst team on the road to follow the longer-term form book.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals 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.Under 3.5:data

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Serie A Table
1 38287389355491
2 38247774413379
3 38239690474378
4 38239677383978
5 38245986414577
6 38215126155668
7 381881268581062
8 381711106456862
9 38157165254-252
10 381112154648-245
11 381012164758-1142
12 381011175165-1441
13 38913164759-1240
14 381010184258-1640
15 38912175272-2039
16 38910194359-1637
17 38716155069-1937
18 38712194075-3533
19 3865274592-4723
20 38311243983-4420
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