Mourinho shows fair play, Belotti finds the net: Are AS Roma ready for the new Serie A season to start?

Andrea Belotti was on target for AS Roma as they played their final pre-season game in Albania, but it was an act of apparent fair play from Jose Mourinho that grabbed the attention over the weekend.

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Jose Mourinho and AS Roma closed their preparations ahead of the beginning of the 2023/24 Serie A season with a 2-1 win over Partizani in Albania, returning to the scene of their Europa Conference League triumph. But the game made headlines for reasons beyond the scoreline, and instead for an act of fair play from Mourinho.

Still frustrated by Roma‘s lack of activity in the summer transfer market and having flown to Albania without Paulo Dybala and the outgoing Nemanja Matic, Mourinho sent his side out in what was a rehearsal for their opening-day meeting with Salernitana. They’ll face the Granata on Sunday, August 20. Tammy Abraham also remains sidelined after suffering a serious injury at the end of last season.

Mourinho’s act of fair play with AS Roma

Jose Mourinho being escorted away after being sent off. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Roma won the game 2-1 with goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Andrea Belotti, but not even the former Torino man scoring was enough to divert attention away from Mourinho. Belotti had a torrid time in Serie A last season in his first year with the Lupi, and with Abraham not expected to return for a while yet there will be increased pressure on him to deliver this coming season.

After Belotti had got his goal and been taken off with the second half nearing its end, things got a little heated in Albania. Partizani‘s physicality was increasing, and they went down to ten men as a consequence. In response, Mourinho decided that his Roma would also end the game with ten players on the pitch, taking Houssem Aouar off without sending anybody on in his place.

With ten players apiece, Partizani won a penalty and pulled the score back to 2-1, then looking more dangerous than they had at any point previously.

How will AS Roma line up in 2023/24?

Andrea Belotti. (@ASRomaEN)

There might have been some clues in Mourinho‘s Roma XI as to how the Giallorossi will line up when they start the new season against Salernitana. Rui Patricio expectedly took his place in goal, with a back three of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Diego Llorente ahead of him. 

The midfield line was a little more experimental, but Leonardo Spinazzola, Aouar and Edoardo Bove all started with 18-year-old Riccardo Pagano and new signing Rasmus Kristensen alongside. In attack, El Shaarawy and Belotti played from the start.

AS Roma fixtures: First six 2023/24 Serie A matches

DateFixture
August 20 (17:30 BST/18:30 CEST)AS Roma vs Salernitana
August 26 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)Verona vs AS Roma
September 1 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)AS Roma vs AC Milan
September 17 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)AS Roma vs Empoli
September 24 (kick-off TBC)Torino vs AS Roma
September 27 (kick-off TBC)Genoa vs AS Roma

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