I can’t pretend to know much about Roma’s next Europa League opponent Austria Wien, other than what wikipedia tells me (they play in Vienna and have captured 24 league titles), but one thing I do know for certain is this: With a victory tomorrow, Roma can begin to put some distance between themselves and their Austrian counterparts, as a victory would give Roma a three point lead at the top of Group F.
So, rather than me plumbing the depths, we’ll turn to Mister Spalletti for some insight into Roma’s next Europa League conquest:
They’re not an easy team to deal with, my players know that and it will be evident...There’s [Olarenwaju] Kayode who is very fast and can cause problems. They have [Ismael] Tajouri who has five goals and has an outstanding left foot. He hasn’t played a lot, and if he’s not injured I imagine he’ll play.
We absolutely need to come up with another performance and another win, the team I choose - never mind that we don’t have many players - will not be weak
With eight goals in 21 combined domestic contests, Spalletti is right to be wary of Kayode and Tajouri, particularly the latter, who is in prime position to exploit Roma’s deplorable left back situation.
Roma v. Austria Wien: October 20, 21:05 CET/3:05 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma
So, how will Spalletti line ‘em up? How will he combat this Austrian horde?
Spalletti tipped his hand when he admitted Francesco Totti will feature heavily in what will be his 100th European match, and should he score, Totti will also crack the century mark under Spalletti; meaningless, sure, but cool nonetheless.
As far as who will surround Il Bimbo d’Oro, it’s probably better to focus on who won’t play, a point Spalletti lamented upon:
We need to talk about things which are less good, those who are missing. Mario Rui and Nura [Abdullahi] are continuing their rehabilitation, and we can’t say anything for sure on [Thomas] Vermaelen.
Bruno Peres and [Diego] Perotti we know about, [Moustapha] Seck got an ankle knock yesterday and won’t be available.
Beyond those names, Kevin Strootman and Kostas Manolas are maybes at this point, but it is interesting that he mentioned Nura. We all know about the litany of injuries this club has sustained in recent weeks and months, but Nura’s name has seldom (if ever) come out of Spalletti’s mouth, so this could be an indication that he may factor in Roma’s rotation before too long, which is certainly a welcomed development.
As far as who will play, Alisson has been given the nod in between the sticks. While Wojciech Szczesny has improved over the past few weeks, the investment the club made in the Brazilian Don Draper demands that he is given consistent minutes, something which has been lacking through the season’s first two months, so this could be an opportunity for Allison to make Spalletti’s decision making process a bit tougher.
So if we connect the dots, tomorrow’s XI should feature a heaping dose of Totti, Stephan El Shaarawy and possibly...possibly...even Juan Iturbe. Given that this is only matchday three, there is some margin for error if Spalletti gets his lineup wrong, but again, Roma can really grab this group by the neck if they’re hitting on all cylinders, so let’s hope his choices click.
The Europa League isn’t where we wanted to be two months ago, but we’re here now, so might as well win it, right?