Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 3/4
Some two decades ago, a match between AS Roma and Fiorentina meant a clash between two of the finest teams in the Serie A. The passion for their encounters was increased tremendously in the summer of 2000, when a certain Gabriel Batistuta left the Viola to join the Giallorossi and went on to win the title with his new club the following season.
These days, however, both these teams are nowhere near the heights of those times, with only the two Milan clubs causing an upset in what was previously a long domination in Italian football by Juventus.
Be that as it may, Roma and Fiorentina will be taking each other on at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening in the opening round of the 2021-22 Serie A season.
A new era has apparently begun for Roma. Paulo Fonseca has left the club and the head coach role has now been taken by Jose Mourinho. The club’s supporters will be hoping that the experienced Portuguese tactician will be able to take them closer to the paths of old glory.
Mourinho, as his his wont, made notable changes to the squad straight away. Roma have signed striker Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, striker Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa, centre-back Roger Ibanez from Atalanta, left-back Matias Vina from Palmeiras, as well as goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
On the other hand, striker Edin Dzeko (Inter Milan), winger Cengiz Under (loan to Olympique Marseille) and Justin Kluivert (loan to OGC Nice), and goalkeeper Pau Lopez (loan to Olympique Marseille) have all left the club. But the one departure that the supporters will have found difficult to accept is forward Pedro, who left as a free agent to join fierce city rivals Lazio.
Having been eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Manchester United in the semifinals last season, Roma finished the domestic campaign in seventh place and will not be playing in Europe this term. Naturally, they’ll be hoping to do better this time around.
Mourinho will be without defender Chris Smalling, with whom he worked previously at Manchester United, through a thigh injury. Midfielder Gonzalo Villar (knee) and left-back Leonardo Spinazzola (Achilles tendon rupture) will also miss out.
Fiorentina finished the 2020-21 campaign in 13th place with just 40 points to their name, seven more than relegated Benevento. Like Roma, they will be striving for higher placement this term, but what exactly they are capable of is a matter for debate at the moment.
As for their transfer activities this summer, much is being said about striker Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international, who scored 21 goals in 37 league appearances last season, is believed to be on the radar of a number of clubs, most notably Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur, but Fiorentina want him to stay and sign a new contract.
On the other hand, there are reports claiming Vlahovic’s compatriot, defender Matija Nastasic, is on his way to the Artemio Franchi from Schalke 04.
That aside, goalkeeper Alban Lafont, centre-backs German Pezzella, David Hancko and Federico Ceccherini, as well as veteran winger Franck Ribery, have all left the club. Winger Nicolas Gonzalez, centre-back Igor and striker Louis Munteanu have arrived to boost the ranks of the newly appointed boss, Vincenzo Italiano.
As things stand at the moment, Italiano is set to have the full squad at his disposal. There are no players unavailable for selection for any reason, and it remains to be seen what his choices will be.
Roma arguably have more quality in their team and with Mourinho at the helm, they will be looking to start the campaign in the best way possible. Fiorentina will probably give them a good game, but they aren’t very likely to take any points from this trip to the capital.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 3/4