With seven rounds remaining, Monza’s comeback victory over Fiorentina after falling down 2-0 solidified their position as the best Serie A (SA) debutants this century (44 points). The Biancorossi are still on track to become just the eighth promoted team to reach 50 points in a season of 38 games after following that up with a 2-0 victory against Spezia.
If Raffaele Palladino’s team has any grievances before the game, it might be about their recent inconsistency at Brianteo Stadium. They have five recent home games with five different results (W2, D1, L2), and they still have a lot to prove because both of their losses saw them blank other current top six clubs.
Monza should also prepare for retaliation from a disgruntled Roma team that is still competing for Europa League supremacy. After a 1-1 draw on Saturday with AC Milan, La Lupa thought they had won it with a goal against the Rossoneri in the 94th minute. However, they lost points almost immediately after scoring, keeping them on the lookout for teams still trying to catch up to the top six.
Roma, although being predicted to rebound, has a horrible recent road record, having only won one of their last nine competitive away games (D2, L6). Among these are two losses to newly promoted competition, notably a 2-1 defeat to bottom three Cremonese, raising the possibility that Roma may not defeat such teams on the road for the entirety of the SA season for the first time since 1998/99.
Matteo Pessina scored the winning goal from a penalty in two of the Biancorossi’s previous four home wins or draws after Monza rallied late in their most recent match at the Brianteo Stadium. Roma’s most recent away day match winner, Paulo Dybala, has won nine straight games on unfriendly grounds, all of which have started the game or ended in a 1-1 draw.
Prior to kickoff, Monza will determine Marco D’Alessandro’s level of fitness; aside from that, Palladino has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
Given their recent success, Palladino is unlikely to make many, if any, changes to his starting lineup. Wing backs Ciurria and Augusto will provide width down the flanks, and Andrea Colpani and Gianluca Caprari will provide support in attack for either Andrea Petagna or Dany Mota.
Marash Kumbulla (ACL) and Andrea Belotti (cracked ribs) both suffered injuries in Roma’s stalemate with Milan, joining Chris Smalling, Georginio Wijnaldum, Diego Llorente, and Rick Karsdorp in the medical center, while Nemanja Matic is out due to a string of infractions.
Due to the absence of Kumballa, Smalling, and Llorente, Mourinho might have to start Gianluca Mancini, Ibanez, and midfielder Edoardo Bove at center back.
In the 3-0 victory over Monza earlier this season, Paulo Dybala notched two goals, and he is set to take Belotti’s spot in the starting lineup up front with another in demand striker Abraham.
Monza possible starting lineup
Di Gregorio, Mari, Caldirola, Izzo, Ciurria, Rovella, Pessina, Augusto, Colpani, Petagna and Caprari.
AS Roma possible starting lineup
Patricio, Mancini, Ibanez, Bove, Celik, Cristante, Camara, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Dybala and Abraham.
We predict: Monza 1-1 AS Roma
The previous meeting between these two teams saw Roma triumph with a three goals victory, but Wednesday’s match up may be closer given how much Monza has improved recently.
The visitors are under extra pressure to earn all possible points as they try to move up to the top four, but we think the home team will put in enough effort to earn a spirited point.