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Roma logo
Serie A | Gameweek 21
Feb 4, 2023 at 5pm UK
Stadio Olimpico
Empoli logo

2 - 0

Ibanez (2'), Abraham (6')
Zalewski (10'), Mourinho (11'), Bove (77')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Henderson (80')

Preview: Roma vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Roma and Empoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Victims of a midweek cup shock, Roma seek to stay on track for a top-four finish in Serie A on Saturday, as they host in-form Empoli.

Despite exiting the Coppa Italia to Cremonese, Jose Mourinho's men remain within three points of second place heading into the weekend, while their visitors are still undefeated since the winter break.

Match preview

Roma coach Jose Mourinho during the match on March 17, 2022© Reuters

After seeing their unbeaten start to 2023 ended last week, Roma aimed to respond straight away by securing a place in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Wednesday.

With the visitors yet to win in Serie A but having knocked out Napoli in the cup's last 16, Cremonese took full advantage of Jose Mourinho's much-changed side at Stadio Olimpico, and after taking a 28th-minute lead from the penalty spot they went on to punish Roma's error-strewn display by sealing a famous 2-1 victory.

The Giallorossi had won three of their first four league games this year - and drawn with Milan in the other - but their Coppa exit followed a defeat in Sunday's Derby del Sole with Napoli that ended any faint hopes of a Scudetto challenge.

Victor Osimhen's stunning opener set the tone for an absorbing encounter at Stadio Maradona, and when Roma equalised through substitute Stephan El Shaarawy late in the second half, the points' destiny remained very much in the balance. However, conceding again consigned the capital club to just their second away defeat of the Serie A season.

Before meeting Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League's knockout phase later this month, Roma will now tackle mid-table sides Empoli and Lecce, so may expect to bounce back from their double setback and remain in the race for a Champions League place.

Mourinho's men sit just one point below both Milan and Atalanta, and despite occupying sixth spot after 20 games are confirmed as one of five contenders for the three slots behind unstoppable Napoli.

Winning both of their last two Serie A home games without conceding a goal sets up a chance for the Giallorossi to win three on the bounce in such fashion for the first time since 2019, and on Saturday they host opponents they last lost to in the top flight some 16 years ago.

Filippo Bandinelli celebrates scoring for Empoli on September 12, 2022© Reuters

Since Empoli's last triumph over Roma, there have been a total of three draws and 10 wins for the Eternal City side, and the Tuscans have never before beaten them at the Olimpico in Serie A.

Nevertheless, Paolo Zanetti's current squad have gone without defeat in their last six league games - posting three wins and three draws - and that represents the club's best top-flight streak since 2015, when they went eight unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri.

Moving above crisis-stricken Juventus and into the top half of the table, the Azzurri's impressive start to 2023 almost continued to the very end of January, as after earning maximum points in Milan by turning over 10-man Inter, they seemed set for three more last weekend.

Leading Torino 2-0 thanks to goals from Sebastiano Luperto and Razvan Marin - the latter had also laid on Luperto's opener - Empoli entered the final 10 minutes well-placed to move further up the standings. However, a late collapse at Stadio Castellani saw them settle for a draw at the final whistle - much to Zanetti's frustration.

Recent results have, however, eased any relegation fears for the coming months, and they can travel to the capital full of hope that Roma will become their latest prized scalp.

Roma Serie A form:

Roma form (all competitions):

Empoli Serie A form:

Team News

Nicolo Zaniolo warms up for Roma on September 15, 2022© Reuters

Roma's options in the wing-back positions remain limited this weekend, as the hosts will be without Leonardo Spinazzola until March due to a thigh injury suffered against Napoli, and Rick Karsdorp remains out of favour after a major bust-up with Jose Mourinho.

Zeki Celik returned following a Serie A suspension to feature in midweek, though his own goal effectively sent Roma out of the Coppa Italia. Nonetheless, the Turkey international could join Nicola Zalewski in patrolling the flanks on Saturday evening.

Spanish centre-back Diego Llorente has agreed a six-month loan move to the Italian capital and may now be involved, and Georginio Wijnaldum has finally completed his comeback from a broken leg, but Nicolo Zaniolo is still frozen out following his failed exit during the transfer window.

Youngsters Cristian Volpato and Benjamin Tahirovic should return to the bench, with Tammy Abraham and Chris Smalling among those brought back into Mourinho's starting XI. Abraham has netted three times in as many matches against Empoli, but he has failed to score a single league goal at Stadio Olimpico since March of last year.

Empoli, meanwhile, will be bolstered by the returns of Fabiano Parisi and Liam Henderson from suspension, and both could feature in the visitors' lineup.

Though Ardian Ismajli and Alberto Grassi (both thigh) remain out of action through injury, ex-Roma striker Mattia Destro is closing in on a return to the squad.

With the latter certainly not in contention to start, recent arrival Francesco Caputo continues to lead the line; Roberto Piccolo joined on loan from Atalanta this week and could also come into Paolo Zanetti's plans up front.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Cristante, Matic, Zalewski; Pellegrini, Dybala; Abraham

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, De Winter, Luperto, Parisi; Bandinelli, Marin, Haas; Baldanzi; Satriano, Caputo

SM words green background

We say: Roma 1-1 Empoli

Empoli are far from a prolific side but have been hard to beat away from home this season. With that in mind, they should prove stern opposition for top-four chasers Roma, who may have to make do with a single point on Saturday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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