MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 20:07:12| >> :600:166400:166400:
Dec 23, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
Veretout (11'), Dzeko (71'), Mancini (77')
Cristante (19'), Mancini (37'), Kumbulla (60')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Pedro (59', 90+1' pen.)
Zappa (20'), Nandez (29')

Preview: Roma vs. Cagliari - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Serie A clash between Roma and Cagliari, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following their second four-goal setback against a top-four rival in a matter of weeks, Roma face former Giallorossi coach Eusebio Di Francesco's faltering Cagliari at Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

The capital club are fourth in Serie A, while their Sardinian visitors sit 13th after failing to win a league game since early November.

Match preview

Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi in action with Roma's Roger Ibanez in Serie A on December 6, 2020© Reuters

After a late-autumn purple patch in which everything they struck turned to goals, Roma have now won only two of their last five Serie A games, having emerged victorious from five of the previous six.

Though Paulo Fonseca's side put in a positive first-half showing versus improving Atalanta on Sunday, they then proceeded to fall apart at the seams in the second period to ultimately lose 4-1.

Star men Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko combined for an early goal, with Pierluigi Gollini also making two fine saves and Leonardo Spinazzola striking the post. However, in a final half-hour display which Fonseca later described as "childish", Roma contrived to concede four goals to a Josip Ilicic-inspired side.

Though their Armenian ace Mkhitaryan - one of only two midfielders with at least six goals and six assists in the top five European leagues - racked up yet another goal-creating pass and Dzeko netted his fifth goal of the season, they again let in a flurry of goals against a direct rival, as in their 4-0 defeat to Napoli last month.

While defensive concerns are clearly an issue for Fonseca and his back three - or four, if you include below-par goalkeepers Antonio Mirante and Pau Lopez - they prepare to take on a Cagliari side which has leaked goals at a rate of nearly two per game.

Recent precedent is broadly in the Giallorossi's favour too, as in the last six meetings between the sides at Stadio Olimpico, Roma have recorded four wins and two draws.

They are also unbeaten in their last 12 Serie A matches in total against the Sardinians, with their last defeat in this encounter dating back to February 2013.

After a year which has promised much but ultimately delivered little, Roma must take advantage of their visitors' shortcomings to maintain a record of not losing their final league match of the calendar year since 2008 - with nine wins and two draws since.

Eusebio Di Francesco, now in charge of Cagliari, pictured in September 2019© Reuters

Slipping down the standings after a promising start to life under Eusebio Di Francesco, Cagliari have now drawn four of their last five league games after they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Udinese at the weekend.

Di Francesco was boosted by the return of veteran centre-back Diego Godin at the Sardegna Arena following a period in self-isolation, opening up the possibility of switching to a three-man defence in future games - perhaps even to match up against Roma's standard system on Wednesday.

Though their coach lamented his charges' lack of urgency when it came to moving the ball against the Zebrette, a point was ultimately an acceptable result against a fellow mid-table team.

Formerly firing them in from all angles, Brazilian forward Joao Pedro has looked a spent force of late, while striker Giovanni Simeone has failed to register either a single goal or assist since COVID-19 infection interrupted what had been a productive start to the campaign. Just three goals from four games so far in December is testament to Gli Isolani's finishing woes.

As coach, attack-minded Di Francesco led Roma between 2017 and 2019, having previously worn the Giallorossi shirt as a player 101 times in Serie A. Returning to the scene of many treasured memories this week, the former Sassuolo boss would be relieved to return home with even a point to close out the year.

Roma Serie A form: WLDWWL
Roma form (all competitions): WDLWWL

Cagliari Serie A form: LDDLDD
Cagliari form (all competitions): WDDLDD

Team News

Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca pictured on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Paulo Fonseca, in addition to long-term absentees Javier Pastore and Nicolo Zaniolo, will be without wing-back Leonardo Spinazzola, who is struggling with a muscle problem.

The Roma defence - which failed so badly in the final 30 minutes in Bergamo - should again comprise Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez, with Antonio Mirante starting ahead of Pau Lopez in goal.

Fonseca has promised to make some changes to his XI, with Europa League regulars Gonzalo Villar and Riccardo Calafiori in line to feature.

Cagliari are without left-back Alessandro Tripaldelli and midfielder Paolo Farago through injury, while Ragnar Klavan and back-up goalkeeper Simone Aresti have contracted COVID-19.

Centre-back Sebastian Walukiewicz should return in defence after he missed the Udinese game with a minor injury and will team up with Diego Godin from the start.

Due to Gio Simeone's lack of form, there is a three-way competition for the number nine shirt, between Simeone, Leonardo Pavoletti and Alberto Cerri.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Mirante; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Villar, Pellegrini, Calafiori; Pedro, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Cagliari possible starting lineup:
Cragno; Zappa, Godin, Carboni, Lykogiannis; Marin, Rog; Nandez, Pedro, Sottil; Simeone

SM words green background

We say: Roma 2-0 Cagliari

Roma's year has been full of goals but they have a reputation for faltering when the going gets tough against fellow top-four contenders.

Such flakiness should not affect their final clash of 2020 though, as Cagliari's attacking limitations mean that former Giallorossi midfielder Eusebio Di Francesco will take his side back to Sardinia empty-handed for Christmas.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 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.Over 1.5:data

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Roger Ibanez in action for Roma on December 6, 2020
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Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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