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Italian Serie A - Match Prediction: AS Roma VS Bologna
Match Time：4/11/2021 23:59 Sunday (GMT+8)
Italian Serie A -- AS Roma VS Bologna
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Having overcome domestic disappointment to gain a vital win in Europe during midweek, Roma host mid-table Bologna on Sunday, needing all three points to stay in the race for a top-four finish.
After previously enjoying successive wins, the visitors were beaten by runaway leaders Inter Milan last week, though sit safely near the centre of the Serie A standings with nine games left to play.
Of late, Roma's fortunes have wildly contrasted at home and abroad, as since the knockout rounds of the Europa League commenced in February, the Giallorossi have continually disposed of their continental opponents - with five wins from five since the action resumed - but are stumbling towards the finish in Serie A.
Coach Paulo Fonseca - under fire for his side's frustratingly inconsistent league performances in 2021 - previously ousted two of his former clubs, Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk, before his team claimed a fortunate 2-1 win over Ajax on Thursday.
That victory in Amsterdam, which came after Roger Ibanez redeemed his earlier mistake in clumsily conceding a penalty by rifling in a well-executed volley, keeps Roma in with a shot of securing the Champions League qualification spot reserved for winning Europe's second-tier competition.
Fonseca's men may need to earn a place through such a route, as in the closely-fought battle for a top four finish in Italy, their form has faltered badly - with defeats to relegation-threatened Parma and then close rivals Napoli being followed by a draw with Sassuolo last Saturday.
A dramatic late equaliser for the Emilian side saw the capital club slip to seventh in the standings and into serious danger of missing out on a return to any continental competition at all. Now with a total of 44 goals conceded, they let in a goal-and-a-half per game on average, making theirs the worst defensive department in the top seven.
Finally seeing their unbeaten home record broken by Milan at the end of February, Roma have lost two of their last three league matches at Stadio Olimpico - as many as they had in their previous 21 in the top flight.
While their back three have been far from impregnable all season long, the absence through injury of playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan - without whom they have averaged only one point per game, as opposed to nearly two per match when he starts - and recent failure of previously prolific striker Edin Dzeko has certainly undermined their cause.
Following his clash with Fonseca that saw him lose the captaincy and subsequent brush with COVID-19, on Sunday the Bosnian frontman will be desperate to avoid failing to find the net in 10 consecutive appearances for the first time in a successful Serie A career.
Despite enjoying the majority of possession against Antonio Conte's clinical Inter side last time out, Bologna were unable to find the net at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, as they went down to a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Once again, the lack of a clinical striker proved the deciding factor for the Felsinei, as stand-in centre-forward Musa Barrow - who has managed six goals and seven assists so far - struggled to influence events in the final third. Being more comfortable joining the attack from out wide, 22-year-old Barrow has often toiled in vain this term and Bologna have relied on the contributions of top-scoring Italy international Roberto Soriano to top up a meagre goals tally from a deeper role.
As a result, Sinisa Mihajlovic's men have lost 10 of their last 12 Serie A matches against sides in the top seven of the table - demonstrating their difficulty in breaking down teams of higher quality.
Though they have won three of their last six games to sit 12 points clear of the drop zone, away from Dall'Ara, the Rossoblu have picked up just three wins and scored 15 goals this season.
Mihajlovic and company did, though, win their last league meeting with Roma at the Olimpico and could win successive away games against the Giallorossi for the first time since 1959 with a victory on Sunday.
Roma Serie A form: LWWLLD
Roma form (all competitions): WLWLDW
Bologna Serie A form: WLLWWL
Roma's injury-plagued Leonardo Spinazzola will miss both this game and the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Ajax next week after the Italy international sustained a muscle injury on Thursday and was replaced by young Riccardo Calafiori after just half an hour.
A regular in the back three this term, versatile midfielder Bryan Cristante is ruled out for the hosts due to suspension, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan (calf), Chris Smalling and Stephan El Shaarawy (both thigh) remain doubtful. Albanian centre-back Marash Kumbulla sustained an injured meniscus on international duty and will miss the remainder of the Giallorossi's 2020-2021 campaign.
After serving a European ban in midweek, Dutch wing-back Rick Karsdorp could slot into the back three to cover the defensive absences, or one of out-of-favour pair Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus may instead be called upon by Paulo Fonseca.
The under-pressure Portuguese coach must also decide between Borja Mayoral and the experienced Edin Dzeko for the centre-forward's shirt, with the on-loan Real Madrid man currently favourite to start.
Bologna goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski has overcome COVID-19 and can replace young deputy Federico Ravaglia as the visitors' last line of defence against his former club, while Sinisa Mihajlovic also hopes to have defenders Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ibrahima Mbaye fit after struggling with muscle injuries.
Veteran midfielder Gary Medel will potentially be missing until the final stages of the campaign with a calf strain, with Jerdy Schouten joining either Nicolas Dominguez or Mattias Svanberg in the Rossoblu engine room.
It is also expected that goal-shy striker Rodrigo Palacio will return to the lineup, allowing Musa Barrow to shift to his favoured position on the flank, with Nicola Sansone perhaps missing out.
Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Mancini, Fazio, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Veretout, Diawara, Calafiori; Pedro, Pellegrini; Mayoral
Bologna possible starting lineup:
Skorupski; De Silvestri, Danilo, Soumaoro, Dijks; Schouten, Svanberg; Skov Olsen, Soriano, Barrow; Palacio
Roma VS Bologna
Roma 1-1 Bologna
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