Serie A: Torino vs Roma – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Roma juggled domestic and European football to good effect last term. Having lost two of their biggest stars, can they get off to a winning start against Torino?
17:00 BST, Sunday 19 August, Stadio Olimpico Grande (Turin), Eleven Sports
Roma’s run to the Champions League semi-final overshadowed an excellent league campaign which ensured they’d have another shot at Europe’s elite competition this term.
While Juventus and Napoli battled it out for the title, the Giallorossi finished best-of-the-rest, winning five and drawing two of their last seven games to end with a five-point cushion over Inter.
A top-four finish is the priority again but a challenge for second place would mark real progress.
Meanwhile, Torino will look to challenge for European places after finishing ninth last season.
Back-to-back wins in their last two games ensured a top-ten finish and four wins from five in pre-season bodes well for Walter Mazzarri’s men.
Last Time Out
Torino 4-0 Cosenza [Coppa Italia]
Torino started their season with a comprehensive win over Serie B side Cosenza which, after a 3-1 friendly defeat to Liverpool, rounded off their pre-season schedule.
Daniele Baselli volleyed home from long range after nine minutes to give the hosts the league. The chance came via a well-rehearsed set-piece which hinted at the work taking place on the training ground.
Andrea Belotti slotted home the second after a smart counter-attacking move just before the half-hour mark to give the hosts a two-goal cushion at half-time.
In the 66th minute, the striker found space in the penalty area to power home his second and Torino’s third.
Tomas Rincon wrapped things up a minute later, tapping in after some fancy footwork on the right from Iago Falque.
Real Madrid 2-1 Roma [Friendly]
Roma concluded a mixed pre-season with a defeat to Real Madrid in New Jersey.
Things didn’t start well for the Italians, who were two down after 15 minutes thanks to goals from Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale.
New goalkeeper Robin Olsen prepared to fill Alisson’s boot with another first-half run out before being replaced by veteran Antonio Mirante. The former Bologna man kept a clean sheet in the second half and could play a part this season as Roma look to compete on several fronts
Kevin Strootman bagged a consolation goal late on, newcomer Patrik Schick claiming the assist in a game that felt like a wind down as both teams looked to avoid injuries.
Torino Predicted Lineup:
Suspended left back Cristian Ansaldi will miss out along with the injured Adem Ljajic.
Walter Mazzarri should implement a 3-5-2 system with new recruits Armando Izzo and Soualiho Meite both featuring.
Roma Predicted Lineup
Despite the high profile departures of goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Radja Nainggolan, Roma’s squad still looks very strong with depth in almost every position.
Eusebio Di Francesco might use that to his advantage by rotating more during the campaign. Newcomers Javier Pastore and Steven N’Zonzi could both start while Bryan Cristante and Justin Kluivert could make the bench.
Key Battle: Andrea Belotti (Torino) vs Robin Olsen (Roma)
After a blistering 2016/17 campaign in which he bagged 28 goals in 38 games, Andrea Belotti’s form fell away last term.
He still managed a respectable haul of 13 in all competitions but he will look to improve on that. This season, he got off to the perfect start, netting twice in the Coppa Italia.
Robin Olsen will look to frustrate Belotti when he takes his place between the sticks on Sunday.
The talented keeper has big shoes to fill but proved at the World Cup he can perform under pressure at a high level.
His task now will be to repeat that form week in, week out at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
What effect will Alisson’s departure have on Roma?
Losing one of the best goalkeepers in the world would rock any team. But Roma will be out to prove they do not rely on star names.
And when you need to replace the world’s most expensive stopper, it helps when your sporting director is an ex-keeper himself.
Monchi moved quickly to replace Alisson with the man whose shot-stopping skills prevented Italy from taking part in this summer’s World Cup.
He is less dynamic than Alisson but offers an assured presence that fills defenders with confidence. Still only 28, he will hope to live his best years in the Italian capital. All eyes will be on the Swede during the opening fixtures.
Prediction: Torino 1-1 Roma
Both teams have found the net at least once in eight of the last 12 meetings between these two.
Roma edged this fixture by a single goal last season, but that was their first victory in five visits to Torino. Three ended 1-1, and the other ended in a 3-1 win for the hosts.
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