MX23RW : Thursday, November 26 11:03:28| >> :120:56295:56295:
Oct 29, 2020 at 8pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
CSKA SofiaCSKA Sofia

Peres (41'), Karsdorp (80'), Villar (84')

Zanev (86'), Busatto (87')

Preview: Roma vs. CSKA Sofia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Roma and CSKA Sofia, including a prediction, team news and possible lineups.

In-form Roma will be looking to build on a promising start to their Europa League Group A campaign as they welcome CSKA Sofia to the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening.

While the Giallorossi came from behind to defeat Young Boys 2-1 in Berne last week, CSKA were beaten 2-0 at home by Romanian champions CFR Cluj.

Match preview

Paulo Fonseca pictured as Roma boss in August 2019© Reuters

With first European goals from Bruno Peres and ex-Verona defender Marash Kumbulla, who scored again on Monday in a thrilling 3-3 draw with AC Milan, Roma took three valuable points home from Switzerland last week.

Paulo Fonseca's side have the ideal opportunity to compile maximum points from their opening pair of Europa League fixtures, now facing the Bulgarian league and cup runners-up.

Fonseca fielded a much-changed side against Young Boys, suggesting that he will take the route of having almost distinct European and domestic XI's. His side were back to full strength for the remarkable game in Milan on Monday, with the attack looking particularly varied and potent.

Roma, who finished fifth in Serie A last term to qualify for the Europa League group stage for the second season running, are likely to rotate once more for CSKA's visit.

They were eventually defeated 2-0 by eventual winners Sevilla in the last 16 of the 2019-20 competition, which is the furthest the club have progressed since the transition from UEFA Cup to Europa League. Though they were UEFA Cup runners-up in 1990-91, Roma's sole European trophy remains the 1960-61 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, sealed by a two-legged victory over Birmingham City in the final.

Current coach Fonseca may have his eyes more firmly focused on domestic matters - as the scudetto race looks wide open this year - but Roma would surely love to collect some overdue silverware.

Unfancied visitors CSKA arrive amid something of a crisis. After a sixth league draw of the season last weekend - against modest Arda Kardzhali - the army club sacked their coach Steman Belchev, who was only appointed in July.

They currently sit in fifth place in the league standings, with 15 points from 10 games, after returning 4 draws and a defeat from the previous 5 rounds.

The Bulgarian capital club qualified for this stage by finishing runners-up last season in both the Bulgarian league and cup, losing on penalties to Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the final. Subsequently, they memorably ousted strong favourites Basel in a one-off tie in Switzerland to reach the group stage for the first time.

That victory was only their second away win in seven European matches, failing to score in four of them. The managerless side will have their work cut out to register in either column after Thursday's appointment at the Olimpico.

Roma Europa League form: W
Roma form (all competitions): LDWWWD

CSKA Sofia Europa League form: L
CSKA Sofia form (all competitions): LWDDLD

Team News

Roma midfielder Amadou Diawara pictured in July 2019© Reuters

Midfielder Amadou Diawara is out, as he continues to self-isolate. Though Gianluca Mancini returned against Milan, after confirmation that his initial COVID-19 test last week was a false positive, he might not be risked on Thursday.

Fellow defender Chris Smalling has struggled to recover from a sprained knee suffered in training last week, which kept him out of the Young Boys and Milan games. Therefore Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus may again step into a back three, alongside Kumbulla.

Promising Spanish midfielder Gonzalo Villar is likely to be given another start alongside his compatriot, striker Borja Mayoral, as Edin Dzeko and penalty-converting machine Jordan Veretout are rested.

CSKA striker Ali Sowe joined from Chievo in 2019, having also represented several lower-league Italian teams. The first Gambian to play in Serie A, he will lead an attack also featuring Watford outcast Jerome Sinclair, who signed on loan earlier this month.

Portuguese midfielder Tiago Rodrigues, once of FC Porto, will again man the engine room, though with Belchev's dismissal it is uncertain if their 4-2-3-1 formation against Cluj will be retained.

Roma possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Jesus, Kumbulla, Fazio; Karsdorp, Cristante, Villar, Peres; Pedro, Perez, Mayoral

CSKA Sofia possible starting lineup:
Busatto; Vion, Antov, Mattheij, Mazikou; Tiago, Youga; Yomov, Sankhare, Sinclair; Sowe

SM words green background

We say: Roma 2-0 CSKA Sofia

A 2-0 defeat against Real Madrid in the 2018-19 Champions League is the only one of their last 15 home European fixtures that Roma have lost, while winning 11 of those games.

They are unbeaten at home in the Europa League group stage, too, and will not let that record slip this week. Even a much-changed side will have too much in hand for starkly inferior opponents.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 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.Over 2.5:curl


Who will win Thursday's Europa League clash between Roma and CSKA Sofia?

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