In their final away fixture before Serie A shuts down for the World Cup, the Giallorossi aim to win a fifth road game on the spin, while their hosts have just suffered successive defeats.
At the end of a tense Derby della Capitale, which was closely fought throughout and concluded with a touchline brawl, Roma came away empty-handed, as arch-rivals Lazio came out on top in the first meeting between the clubs this season.
Sunday’s contest saw the old foes sitting side-by-side in the Serie A standings before kickoff at an atmospheric Stadio Olimpico, and both had also been in Europa League action three days earlier, when Jose Mourinho‘s side secured a playoff with Champions League drop-outs RB Salzburg, to be played early next year.
It was only an awful individual error by Roger Ibanez – who over-elaborated on the ball while inside his own box – that allowed Felipe Anderson to score the decisive goal, after ex-Romanista Pedro pressured the Brazilian defender into a costly mistake.
Despite Nicolo Zaniolo later striking the crossbar, an ineffective attacking performance saw Mourinho’s men go on to suffer a third home defeat of the season in Serie A alone, and their fourth overall.
Derby defeat has consequences for the Giallorossi’s top-four aspirations as well as capital city supremacy, because after losing two of their last three league games – as many as in the previous 12 – they now occupy sixth place. Already 10 points adrift of leaders Napoli, they have not only slipped behind Lazio, but also Derby d’Italia victors Juventus.
Nevertheless, Roma are straight back on the road without time for introspective reflection, and before hosting Torino in their final fixture of 2022 at the weekend, they now seek a fifth straight away win for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign.
Having lost each of their first five Serie A meetings with Roma at home in Reggio Emilia, Sassuolo have gone unbeaten through their last four – the most recent being a 2-2 draw in February of this year.
The Neroverdi could be relied upon to score regularly last season, as evidenced by that result, but are a different proposition now, having tightened up at the back but also sacrificed some firepower due to departures and injuries.
Following consecutive defeats, to Napoli and Empoli, Alessio Dionisi‘s side are down to 13th in the standings and have failed to find the net in their last two matches – they now aim to avoid firing three blanks in a row for the first time since February 2018.
While losing to the leaders at Stadio Maradona was entirely understandable, ex-Empoli boss Dionisi will have been far more frustrated to have succumbed to his former club on Saturday, when Tommaso Baldanzi‘s second-half strike was all that separated two of the division’s lowest-scoring sides.
Though one of last term’s top performers Hamed Traore recently returned from injury, Sassuolo are still without attacking talisman Domenico Berardi, and Andrea Pinamonti has yet to rediscover his best form since moving to the Mapei Stadium on loan in the summer.
Now set to face a Roma side who have won five of their seven away games, the hosts may therefore have to rely on a more miserly defence: they have kept clean sheets in half of their home fixtures to date.
Adding to Jose Mourinho’s woes post-derby, the results of a scan on Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini showed a thigh injury sustained on Sunday will rule the midfielder out of the Giallorossi’s final two Serie A fixtures this year.
Furthermore, Paulo Dybala remains sidelined, though there is faint hope of the Argentina forward making a cameo appearance in Sunday’s meeting with Torino. Two other regulars, Leonardo Spinazzola and Georginio Wijnaldum, are still unavailable too.
Due to the rapid turnaround of games in recent days, the visitors could make several changes to the side beaten by Lazio, with experienced pair Stephan El Shaarawy and Nemanja Matic among those awaiting an opportunity. Out of form this term, Tammy Abraham may also be rested; Andrea Belotti would therefore start.
Meanwhile, up front for Sassuolo, struggling striker Andrea Pinamonti is expected to continue, having scored three Serie A goals against Wednesday’s visitors during various loan spells from Inter – against no other side has he netted more.
Rome-born Davide Frattesi has scored three goals in six home matches this season – already two more than in 17 at the Mapei Stadium last term – and will once more run the hosts’ midfield.
As Armand Lauriente returns from suspension – increasing Alessio Dionisi’s diminished attacking options – either Emil Konradsen Ceide or teenage winger Luca D’Andrea could make way; however, fellow forwards Domenico Berardi and Gregoire Defrel remain sidelined by injury.
Sassuolo possible starting lineup:
Consigli; Toljan, Erlic, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez, Thorstvedt; Lauriente, Pinamonti, Traore
Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Vina; Celik, Cristante, Matic, El Shaarawy; Volpato, Zaniolo; Belotti