In his pre-match press conference on Saturday, Eusebio Di Francesco admitted the doesn’t have much choice, in terms of personnel, for Sunday’s big match against Inter. The only place that EDF has options is in defense, while at the same time admitting that he could change up the formation.
“The only area where I can make some choices is in defence. I don’t know if Federico Fazio will start, I could use three or four at the back. I’m working on both systems and we’ll see what is most opportune,” said the Roma tactician.
Whatever direction Di Francesco decides to go with the formation, he will be without some of his side’s biggest guns. Long term absentee, Daniele De Rossi, remains out. Lorenzo Pellegrini, who was injured last weekend at Udinese, is also out despite his best efforts to make it back. Meanwhile, Roma received more disheartening news this week, when it was determined that both Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy are likely out until Christmas. Youngster Ante Coric is also out injured.
Conversely, Roma received some good news on the injury front with the return of some long term absentees: Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore. EDF announced that both will be available on Sunday, but understandably not from the start. Those two will provide EDF with some experienced attacking options off the bench.
In addition to Pastore and Perotti, the Roma squad list also includes Primavera player Zan Celar, who was called up for the Madrid match. The youngster has made the squad list again, as cover for Schick. Additionally, there’s a surprise inclusion from Primavera: Alessio Riccardi. The 17 year old is thought to be the organization’s next great Roman. While it’s unlikely he’ll see the field, the inclusion will make Romanisti wonder just how close he could be to his first team debut.
With the injuries abound, it looks like EDF has tried to plant seeds of doubt in Luciano Spalletti’s mind by hinting at a possible three man defense. However, major Italian publications, Corriere dello Sport, Gazzetta dello Sport, Sky Sport, and EuroSport, all project Roma sticking with the 4-2-3-1 formation.
If Roma play the 4-2-3-1, then it’s likely that the back four will be composed of Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksander Kolarov in the wide positions, with Kostas Manolas and Juan Jesus in the middle. The Brazilian is currently favored over Federico Fazio, after the Argentine’s disastrous mistake on Tuesday against Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Robin Olsen will protect the Roma goal.
Sitting in front of the defense will be the duo of Bryan Cristante and Steven N’Zonzi. The Frenchman will try to bounce back from his subpar performance against Madrid, after he was whistled off the pitch. Meanwhile, the Roma attack will be feature plenty of youth. Patrik Schick will again feature in the lone striker role. Di Francesco spoke about his young striker during his presser and hopes to see more belief from the Czech.
EDF: "We all need to try and be a bit stronger mentally, because it seems at the first sign of difficulty our shortcomings emerge. Schick must do better - but they all must. He needs to show more conviction and believe more in the exceptional ability he has.”— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 1, 2018
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In support of Schick will be Tuesday’s man of the match, Nicolo Zaniolo, in the trequartista role. The young Italian has grown throughout the season and will look to impress against his former club. He will be flanked by Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Ünder. EDF confirmed his confidence his in the young Turk, after his egregious mistake against Madrid. However, one wonders if this would be the case if the coach had a healthy SES at his disposal.
EDF: "Cengiz will start. We need to back him. He knows he has to improve but he's one of those who always tries to take the initiative and hurt the opposition.”— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 1, 2018
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On the opposite side of the pitch, Spalletti will have nearly a full roster available. There is one big exception: Radja Nainggolan. The former Roma fan favorite is unavailable due to injury and will miss out on his first return to the Olimpico. Inter will employ Spalletti’s preferred 4-3-3.