Serie A Round 17: Roma – Inter Preview and Expected Lineups

We are only in the early weeks of the new year, but the first few matchdays of 2021 have already served us some intriguing match-ups and unexpected results. In Round 17 of Serie A, the third-placed Roma will be looking to move another inch closer to the top of the league table as Paulo Fonseca’s men host the other serious title contenders Inter.

Both teams come into this game after producing different performances in midweek. The Nerazzurri missed out on a great opportunity to go top of the Serie A after suffering an unexpected 2-1 loss away to Sampdoria. Contrarily, Roma bagged another three points with a comfortable 3-1 against Crotone.

The Cult of Calcio is here to preview the key matchup of Round 17, with an eye on the potential lineups of both teams.

Roma – Inter

Serie A Round 17
Sunday, 10 January 2021
Kick-off at 12:30 (CET)
Stadio Olimpico (Rome)

Recent Form – Roma

The Giallorossi have been one of the best performing Serie A teams in the recent weeks, with Fonseca’s men winning 5 of the last 6 league matches. A successful domestic run saw Roma climb into 3rdplace in the league table with 33 points, only 4 behind the Serie A leaders Milan. A 3-1 win over Crotone on Wednesday night was Roma’s third consecutive win after a thumping 4-1 defeat against Atalanta before Christmas.

Despite a comprehensive match result, the game against Crotone was not as easy as it may have seemed at first glance. Roma found it relatively hard to dominate the positional play against the opponents, recording only 48% possession. Moreover, Crotone had more attempts at goal (13) compared to Roma’s 12 (4 on target), but the Giallorossi created 2 big goal-scoring opportunities that proved to be the difference. Roma finished the game with an xG (expected goals) of 1.90 against Crotone’s 0.79.

Overall, Roma are one of the best-attacking sides in the Serie A this season. They are joint-third with Milan for the goals scored so far (35), and joint-second with Inter for the npxG (non-penalty expected goals), valued at 31.7. Besides, Fonseca’s men have averaged nearly 3.0 xG in their last five wins, which indicates a truly impressive offensive display.

Although the Giallorossi have the worst defensive record among the top seven teams (24 goals conceded), their xGA (expected goals against) suggest that Roma are more defensively sound than the goals conceded suggest. According to xGA, Roma should have conceded 18.4 goals instead of 24, which implies theoretically better defensive displays than both Milan clubs.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Roma

On Sunday afternoon, Fonseca will have to cope without several players, who will be missing through injury. Pedro, Leonardo Spinazzola and goalkeeper Antonio Mirante are the key losses before Sunday’s immensely important clash with Inter.

Nevertheless, Roma seem to have maintained their core squad, which has jelled fairly well over the last few weeks, with Lorenzo Pellegrini, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko proving to be one of the best-attacking trios in this Serie A season, having scored a combined 17 goals and made 10 assists.

Expected Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Veretout, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Unavailable: Pedro (thigh injury), Calafiori (muscle injury), Mirante (hamstring), Zaniolo (ACL injury), Fazio, Santon

Recent Form – Inter

On Wednesday night, the Nerazzurri wasted a glorious chance to go top of the Serie A standings for the first time in eleven match-days. Inter suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat to Sampdoria and thus remained 2ndin the table with 36 points, one point behind their cross-city rivals Milan. Wednesday’s loss ended Inter’s 8-game winning streak, which was their longest since 2008.

Despite an unfavorable result, Inter were by far the better side on Wednesday night and should have come away with all three points. An early penalty miss from Alexis Sanchez proved to be the decisive moment in the match, as it followed with Sampdoria’s two first-half goals later on. In the second half, the Nerazzurri totally bossed the game, with Conte’s men trying to secure the precious points. Inter enjoyed a remarkable 71% possession and had 13 shots on goal; however, only 4 four those attempts hit the target and neither of them ended up as a big goal-scoring opportunity. Despite that, Inter finished the game with an xG of 2.61, which should have been more than enough to win this match.

Inter remain one of the best if not the best-attacking sides in the league, suggesting that a loss on Wednesday was more the exception rather than the rule. The Nerazzurri are the highest-scoring team in the Serie A with 41 goals (avg. 2.6 goals per game) and have the joint-best npxG (non-penalty expected goals) together with Roma (31.7). They also create the 2nd-most goal actions per 90 minutes (4.06) and also have the 2nd-best goals per shot on target ratio of 0.39, indicating their shooting prowess and quality finishing.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Inter

So far this season, Inter have been one of the luckiest teams in terms of not picking up too many injuries. Conte have been fielding more or less the same team for the last month or two, with Achraf Hakimi, Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni and Ashley Young forming a formidable back five.

A striker duo of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku have already scored 21 Serie A goals between them this season and are rightly considered as one of the best striker partnerships in Europe. Following his penalty miss on Wednesday, Sanchez is expected to make his way for Lukaku while Arturo Vidal should start ahead of Roberto Gagliardini.

Expected Starting XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Brozovic, Barella, Vidal,  Young; Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku.

Unavailable: D’Ambrosio (knee injury), Pinamonti (muscle injury), Vecino (knee injury)

Roma vs Inter – Previous Meetings

This will be the 197th meeting between the two Italian giants, with Inter having the better record of the two. So far, the Nerazzurri have won 84 matches against Roma (42.9% win ratio), whereas their opponents celebrated a victory on 56 occasions (28.6% win ratio).

The last meeting between the two teams ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw back in July.


All in all, the Sunday’s encounter promises to be an entertaining game, with both teams looking to narrow the gap at the top even further. Despite Inter’s loss on Wednesday, both sides have been in good form recently, scoring loads of goals and looking to catch Milan at the top of the league standings.

A high-scoring match seems highly likely, with Inter potentially having a slight edge over Roma due to their superior defensive record.