AS Roma v Catania Preview
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: The second Zdenek Zeman era at Roma begins on Sunday against Catania, who in Rolando Maran also have a new manager at the helm.
BREAKDOWN: Zeman, who was in charge of the Giallorossi in the late 90s, is promising goals as he returns to the capital. His off-season acquisitions of Panagiotis Tachtisidis and Mattia Destro (loan) seem to indicate he’s serious, but as Roma had the second-worst defensive record among the top 15 sides in Serie A last season the 65-year-old would do well to focus on his side’s defensive competence as well.
To that end Paraguay defender Ivan Piris was brought in on loan from Cerro Porteno earlier this month and Corinthians tandem Dodo and Leandro Castan were acquired in July. Right-back Federico Balzaretti, bought from Palermo for €4.5 million, was Roma’s biggest signing of the summer.
Catania, meanwhile, are looking to build on last season’s impressive 11th place finish. Central defenders Nicolas Spolli and Nicola Legrottaglie will once again be vital to the cause, as will playmaking midfielder Francesco Lodi, who contributed nine goals in 2011-12.
New manager Maran will make his Serie A debut on Sunday, having been hired at the Sicily side after guiding Varese to a fifth-place finish in Serie B last term.
ESSENTIALS: Roma and Catania drew both their matches last season.
Roma forward Mattia Destro misses out through suspension while Tachtsidis and sstriker Bojan Krkic are doubtful through injury.
Catania will be without injured midfielder Julio Izco.
KEY BATTLE: Michael Bradley arrived at Roma from Chievo Verona in the summer as Roma attempted to beef up their midfield, and the United States international’s first assignment will be to contain the dangerous Lodi, who is central to everything Catania create going forward.
FORMATIONS: Zeman will send out a 4-3-3 will Erik Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo functioning on either side of Francesco Totti. Maran will deploy a 4-3-2-1 with Alejandro Gomez, one of 12 Argentines at the club, leading the line.
BETLINE: AS Roma 4/9; Draw 10/3; Catania 6/1. Roma last beat Catania in January 2011.