ROMA v ATALANTA
Serie A. Kick Off 7.30pm. Monday 27th August. Live on Eleven Sports 2
I'M really looking forward to this match at the Stadio Olimpico. Both sides kicked the Serie A season off with wins.
Roma prevailed 1-0 through an 89th-minute Edin Dzeko goal at Torino, with Atalanta somewhat more emphatic, dispatching Frosinone 4-0 at their Stadio Atleti home. Midfield general Alejandro Gomez pulled the strings, scoring a brace and providing assists for the other two goals.
Atalanta's season has been on the go for a while due to Europa League qualification and they are a team that can definitely score goals. They drew at home to Sarajevo 2-2 then promptly lamped them 8-0 in the away leg, with Gomez on the scoresheet again and 19-year-old forward Musa Barrow bagging a late hat-trick. They will be disappointed with the 0-0 at home to FC Copenhagen.
The shot count was heavily in their favoura nd they may feel they should have a lead to take there at least, so if they pull out a performance like they did at Sarajevo it's curtains for Copenhagen.
That is why I fancy goals in this game. Roma are not exactly short of attacking options either, with the likes of Cengiz Under, Stephan El Shaarawy, young Justin Kluivert and Dzeko, who I often think is an underrated footballer.
Is it because he maybe lacks pace? He never forgets where the net is though and always seems to look for opportunities to use the ball well when I have watched him play. His record makes him short in the goalscorer market so the value lies elsewhere for me.
Will Barrow play? I don't think Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini will be unduly concerned about the Copenhagen fixture, so maybe. He seems to be performing some sort of quiet revolution at the club, adding good loan signings to what he inherited, and Barrow is a raw talent.
Roma are still formidable opponents though, with Daniele De Rossi still marshalling their midfield at 35 years old and those attacking options make their threat potent. But Atalanta's Gomez could play a big part. The corresponding fixture last season was a 2-1 win for Atalanta. Can they do it again? I think they can.