New look Roma go into the game high on spirit following some pretty solid showings in pre-season and no wonder the Giallorossi are odds-on favourites to win this match. Catania are not the best travelers in Serie A, but they will attempt to bring at least one point back to Sicily.
The Zdenek Zeman effect
Club chiefs had done well to reinforce the squad last summer, spending a lot of money on new players, but inexperienced coach Luis Enrique just couldn’t get the maximum out of his players. Once again the Giallorossi have splashed the cash on new players, this time on Dodo, Michael Bradley, Leandro Castan, Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Mattia Destro, Ivan Piris and Federico Balzaretti, but it appears that coach Zdenek Zeman could prove to be the best signing of the transfer window. The seasoned tactician has laid down the law on the squad and we could immediately see an improvement in team’s showings. His 4-3-3 formation is working like a charm, while the defensive frailties have been finally addressed with the arrivals of Piris, Castan and Balzaretti. With Milan and Inter much weaker than last term, Roma have an excellent chance to enter the title race after quite a while and they look like hot favourites in this one. For the first time after a long time, the Giallorossi have a very balanced squad, big strength in depth and a coach with authority, so the odds are they will start the season with a bang.
Mattia Destro and Stefano Guberti are suspended, while Dodo and Panagiotis Tachtsidis are sidelined through injury. Bojan Krkic is doubtful with a thigh problem.
No cure for travel sickness
Catania were one of the surprise packages of last season, having finished the league campaign in 11th place, but the club chiefs were unable to hold on to coach Vincenzo Montella, who moved to Fiorentina. The Elephants have tried to compensate by making a number of new signings this summer, with Amidu Salifu, Lucas Castro and Alexis Rolin the more notable arrivals. Having entered the new season with virtually unchanged starting line-up, the Elephants can be expected to continue with strong performances at home, but it is highly unlikely that new boss Rolando Maran would be able to help the team find a cure for their travel sickness. With just 2 away wins in 19 away games last term, Catania were one of the worst travelers in the elite division and that record doesn’t give them much reason for optimism before the trip to Olimpico.
Starters Mariano Izco and Nicolas Spolli miss out through injury, while new signings Salifu, Castro and Rolin will have to settle for a place on the bench.
I was really impressed by Roma’s pre-season showings and with no major absentees the Giallorossi can be expected to continue with solid performances. Catania are simply awful on the travels and with that in mind they cannot be expected to match arguably the best Roma side in years.
Our prediction: Roma with -1.5 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.28 (32/25)