MX23RW : Saturday, December 19 08:30:56| >> :600:828480:828480:
Nov 26, 2020 at 8pm UK at Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu
CFR ClujCFR Cluj

Itu (35'), Paun (37'), Dokovic (43'), Burca (66'), Camora (71'), Petrescu (72')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Debeljuh (49' og.), Veretout (67' pen.)
Diawara (53'), Dzeko (90+3')

Preview: CFR Cluj vs. Roma - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between CFR Cluj and Roma, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Red-hot Roma travel to Transylvania on Thursday aiming to put one foot in the Europa League knockout stages with back-to-back wins over out-of-form CFR Cluj.

The Giallorossi arrive on the back of four wins in a row - with 13 goals scored and just one conceded in the process - while hosts Cluj were battered by the same opponents last time out in Europe and have lost their last two home matches in the league.

Match preview

Roma forward Pedro celebrates with Tommaso Milanese after scoring against CFR Cluj on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Having beaten Cluj comprehensively at the Stadio Olimpico to move clear at the top of Group A, Roma should go into this week's reverse fixture against the Romanian champions bursting with confidence.

Paulo Fonseca's side took an early lead against the Railwaymen earlier this month - through chief chance-maker Henrikh Mkhitaryan's header - and eventually cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win, which was their biggest in the Europa League. Spanish striker Borja Mayoral also contributed a double while standing in for self-isolating star striker Edin Dzeko to leave Roma in a strong position to progress.

Roma's 2-1 win at Young Boys on the first matchday was only their second victory in their last eight European matches outside Rome, losing four. Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage, however, is W4 D4 L2, with wins in the two most recent fixtures.

Precedent will be in their favour this week, as the Italian giants have never lost in Romania - though three of their four matches in the country have been draws, two of them goalless. Their only win there came in a 3-1 success against Cluj some 12 years ago.

At the weekend, Roma benefited from another Mkhitaryan masterclass as the Armenian wizard produced two more spectacular strikes to brush helpless Parma aside in Serie A. In the absence of Dzeko, the ex-Borussia Dortmund star has risen further to the fore and clearly shrugged off several years of under-performance.

With their chief tormentor from the Olimpico mauling firing on all cylinders and Bosnia striker Dzeko now back in the Roma squad, Cluj may be fearing a repeat performance at home.

CFR Cluj players celebrate scoring against Young Boys in October 2020© Reuters

That heavy loss was their first defeat in the group though, still leaving them level with Swiss side Young Boys on four points – with three fewer than Roma and three more than fourth-placed CSKA Sofia.

Penalty shoot-outs aside, Cluj are unbeaten in their last seven European home games too, winning four. They won all three in last season's Europa League group stage - against Lazio, Rennes and Celtic - before drawing 1-1 against Young Boys in this season's second group fixture.

A loss at home to UTA Arad on Sunday undermined preparations somewhat, as a more offensive 4-3-3 lineup could not force the win needed to catch up with Liga leaders FCSB (formerly Steaua Bucharest, now controversially renamed). An increasingly inconsistent start to the campaign sees them sitting in third place, six points adrift of their fierce rivals from the Romanian capital.

Ex-Genoa and Chelsea full-back Dan Petrescu, in his second spell as CFR's manager since March 2019, had caused consternation with his comments in the aftermath of their loss in Italy three weeks ago, reportedly claiming that he was going to resign straight after the game.

The Italian press quoted the itinerant coach as declaring: "I want a break, I can't take it anymore. I need a rest," but Petrescu remains in situ for now.

Recent results, the upcoming visit of Paulo Fonseca's relentless side and now a COVID-19 outbreak amid his squad will hardly have improved his maudlin mood. How he handles such adversity could well define his club's prospects of remaining in Europe until the new year - and whether they can hold back the Roman hordes on Thursday night.

CFR Cluj Europa League form: WDL
CFR Cluj form (all competitions): WDLLWL

Roma Europa League form: WDW
Roma form (all competitions): DDWWWW

Team News

Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca pictured on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Returning Roma striker Edin Dzeko is one game away from his 100th appearance in UEFA club competition - scoring 41 goals in his 99 European matches to date - and has been passed fit to return from his spell in quarantine. Borja Mayoral, who has fared well in his absence, would make way if Paulo Fonseca decides to bring his main man back in at the earliest available opportunity.

Defenders Roger Ibanez and Gianluca Mancini are to be evaluated before kickoff, while Marash Kumbulla, Federico Fazio and Davide Santon will miss out.

For the home side, vice-captain Ciprian Deac, defender Syam Ben Youssef and key midfielder Ovidiu Hoban have all tested positive for COVID-19 in the build-up to the game.

Therefore Cluj coach Dan Petrescu will rely on former Anderlecht man Alexandru Chipciu to deputise for winger Deac, while Brazilian holding midfielder William Soares steps in for Hoban.

CFR Cluj possible starting lineup:
Balgradean; Susic, Manea, Ciobotariu, Camora; Soares, Chipciu, Itu, Dokovic; Debeljuh, Rondon

Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Jesus, Smalling, Ibanez; Peres, Diawara, Villar, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Mayoral

SM words green background

We say: CFR Cluj 1-3 Roma

A re-run of early November's Roman horror show is a very real prospect, given the respective form of either side.

Roma, however, have defensive concerns due to injury and infection, so will be more than happy to come away with three straightforward points from their Transylvanian trip. Returning hero Edin Dzeko can help seal the win needed to effectively seal onward progress.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a draw or an away win 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.Draw/Away:data


Who will win Thursday's Europa League clash between CFR Cluj and Roma?

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