Juventus, already eight points clear at the top of the table and powered by the summer arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, look destined to claim yet another Serie A title this season. Behind the Bianconeri, though, there is a pack of clubs battling for a top-four place and to emerge as the Old Lady’s nearest challengers.
Two such sides will meet at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening, when Roma host Inter Milan.
These two giants of the Italian game may have been starved of silverware of late, but, as Roma’s run to the Champions League semi-finals last year and Inter’s own return to the competition this term have shown, they remain among the continent’s best.
Here, our friends at Football Whispers preview this clash of Serie A titans.
Roma have endured a difficult start to the 2018/19 campaign, sitting seventh in Serie A with just five wins from 13 games.
The Giallorossi have fared a little better in the Champions League, where they sit second in Group G, despite a reverse at home to Real Madrid in midweek. They are already assured of their safe passage to the last 16.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s men appeared to be back to top form earlier this month when they hammered Sampdoria 4-1 in the capital, but they followed that positive result up with a disappointing defeat to Udinese last weekend, while they were soundly beaten 2-0 by the European champions on Tuesday.
Inter were also on the wrong side of a Champions League result in midweek, losing to 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.
The Nerazzurri have been in generally good fettle this term, however, third in the Serie A table with nine wins from 13, just a point behind second-placed Napoli. The only major blot on their copybook this term is a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Atalanta earlier in November.
Di Francesco’s preferred shape this season has been 4-2-3-1, with Steven N’Zonzi and combative veteran Daniele De Rossi making up a muscular double pivot, while Stephan El Shaarawy and Cengiz Under offer thrust from the flanks and Lorenzo Pellegrini provides industry and invention centrally.
Former Roma boss Luciano Spalletti is a 4-3-3 advocate, but he has turned more to a 4-2-3-1 set-up this season.
Spalletti has brought the best out of Croatian utility midfielder Marcelo Brozovic of late by fielding the 26-year-old as a deep-lying playmaker at the base of midfield.
Only Juventus boast a better defensive record than Inter this season and that is thanks largely to Milan Skriniar’s presence in central defence. The Manchester United target is powerful and uncompromising but also adept at bringing the ball out from the back and starting attacking moves.
Up top, captain and star man Mauro Icardi is Inter’s primary threat, with Matteo Politano and Ivan Perisic servicing him from the flanks.
Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan – The Argentine hitman may have only gotten off the mark for his country during the most recent international break, but he has been banging the goals in at club level for several years now.
Perhaps the most clinical pure No.9 in the game, the Nerazzurri’s leader only needs half a sight of goal to make his mark. His link play has improved greatly over the last two years, but Icardi’s lethal finishing remains his calling card.
Stephan El Shaarawy, Roma – Remarkably still only 26, one-time AC Milan prodigy El Shaarawy has found a level of consistency that had eluded him for much of his early career.
With five Serie A goals – and one assist – to his name so far this season, the Italy international is Roma’s leading scorer. With his pace, technique and penchant for the spectacular, Inter will have to monitor him very closely on Sunday.
*Odds subject to change
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