19:30 BST, Monday 27 August - Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
Roma’s tricky opening schedule continues as they host Atalanta at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday night. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men fled the capital with all three points last term, earning a 2-1 win despite playing the entire second half with ten men.
The visitors came out of the blocks quickly in that game stunning the hosts with two goals in the first 20 minutes. Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco will look to avoid a similar pattern of events here as he strives for a second win of the campaign.
Some shrewd summer transfer business has made Roma many pundits’ favourites to become Juventus’ closest challengers this season. A win here would put them on the right track.
La Dea are also looking for their second win after defeating Frosinone on the opening day. They have only won two of their first eight games last season and lost their first two in a row, so a win here would give them an early boost in the quest for a third-straight European qualification.
Last Time Out
Torino 0-1 Roma [Serie A]
Roma opened their account with a narrow win in Torino. The hosts surprised everyone with their resilience and it took a late volley from Edin Dzeko to break the deadlock.
Torino were first to put the ball in the net but the official scrubbed out Iago Falque’s goal after VAR revealed an offside in the build-up.
It wasn’t a great performance from the Lupi and fans will hope for more when they step out onto home soil for the first time on Monday night.
New signing Javier Pastore’s poor display left many fans pondering the wisdom of offloading Radja Nainggolan to Inter, but most lauded fellow newcomer Justin Kluivert for a fine debut which included the assist for Dzeko’s goal.
Keeper Robin Olsen also impressed on his debut, frustrating Andrea Belotti with some excellent saves.
Atalanta 4-0 Frosinone [Serie A]
Atalanta had a slow start last season, and it almost cost them a European place. There were no such issues last weekend as they stormed to a 4-0 win over newly promoted Frosinone.
It was a baptism of fire for Moreno Longo’s men who will look to improve on their maiden season in Serie A three years ago which resulted in a 19th-place finish and relegation.
Papu Gomez was the star of the show, bagging two goals and two assists in a display that validated the club’s decision to hang on to their prized asset this summer.
Roma Predicted Lineup:
Bryan Cristante impressed after coming on for the last 30 minutes against Torino and could start against the club he represented last season, with Kevin Strootman making way.
Kluivert’s fine cameo could also put him in contention although Di Francesco is likely to persevere with the same front three that started against Torino.
Ante Coric, Nicolo Zaniolo and Steven N’Zonzi will all hope to see action at some point.
Atalanta Predicted Lineup:
After a successful start last week, Gasperini is unlikely to make too many changes. Expect a 3-4-1-2 with Gambian youngster Musa Barrow leading the line.
The team from Bergamo will start at a high tempo and try to rattle the hosts in the first 20 minutes. They will look to press high up the pitch but Roma’s strength in the wide areas could force them to sit deeper as the game wears on.
Key Battle: Olsen (Roma) vs Gomez (Atalanta)
Robin Olsen had big shoes to fill following the departure of Alisson to Liverpool. He passed his first test with flying colours against and will look to continue that form on Monday.
In the same fixture last year, Atalanta went on the offensive early on and breached the Brazilian’s goal twice in the first 19 minutes. That was enough to seal all three points. Expect another high tempo start on Monday.
Leading that early assault will be Atalanta’s Papu Gomez. The 30-year-old Argentinean is entering his fifth season at the club and is improving with age.
He provided ten assists in each of the last two seasons and is a regular scorer himself, netting 32 league goals over the last four campaigns.
Could Kluivert become Roma’s next big star?
Justin Kluivert is a player to watch. The son of former Milan and Barcelona star Patrick, and former Ajax youth product, came off the bench to provide the assist for Edin Dzeko’s stunning volley last weekend.
Still only 19 years old, many observers rate him as one of the most exciting prospects in the game. Eusebio Di Francesco will ease him into action so he might not start on Monday, but another strong cameo as a substitute could see him force the coach's hand in future team selections.
Prediction: Roma 2-2 Atalanta
Of the last 29 meetings between these two, 28 produced at least two goals and 20 produced at least three. The last goalless draw occurred in September 1984.
Roma have not beaten the Orobici at the Olympic Stadium for four years and have only won one of their last seven meetings home or away. In that spell, Atalanta have won three including last year’s 2-1 victory in Rome.
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