Just when it looked things might be getting just a little bit better on the injury front, they actually got worse on Thursday. Lorenzo Pellegrini, who had missed the last two matches with a muscle strain, had returned to practice on Wednesday. This was just days after Javier Pastore and Diego Perotti had returned to game action, after months on the sidelines. However, the good news was quickly doused when Pellergini left training that same day and Thursday had been ruled out until after the holidays with a different muscle strain. That was compounded when EDF announced at his Friday press conference that Kostas Manolas is 50/50 after picking up a knock in training.
EDF: "Florenzi in an attacking role? It’s certainly an option but tomorrow he’ll be at full back. Manolas picked up a knock on the leg during training – he’ll travel with us but I don’t know if he’ll play. Currently its 50-50 whether he’ll be available.”#ASRoma #CagliariRoma pic.twitter.com/sXuxdZctQx— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 7, 2018
Thus, the injury bug continues to bite Roma with a vengeance. This again leaves Eusebio Di Francesco with little personnel flexibility, when Roma travel to the Sardegna Arena looking to get the season back on track. Roma will again be without Daniele De Rossi, Stephan El Sharaawy, Edin Dzeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Ante Coric, and Rick Karsdorp when it squares off against Cagliari. With that in mind, expect only one or two changes from Sunday’s hard fought draw against Inter.
Roma will again employ the 4-2-3-1 formation, which has become the team’s staple over the last few months. Robin Olsen, who has become a fixture in the Roma net, will start at keeper. In front of him will be Kostas Manolas, if fit, in the heart of the defense. If he’s not, it sounds like, Ivan Marcano could get a look.
EDF: "Ivan Marcano has trained very well – he may be considered for tomorrow. I’ll need to assess things in defence, given the situation with Manolas.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 7, 2018
“Pastore perhaps needs game time more than Perotti, but neither of them will start the match.”#ASRoma #CagliariRoma
Who starts alongside of him is one of the few question marks. Some publications expect to see Juan Jesus retain his starting spot from the weekend, while others believe Federico Fazio will return to the XI. Aleksander Kolarov will again start at left full back and Alessandro Florenzi will return to the right, after starting in attack last week.
The midfield duo in front of the defense will again be composed of Steven N’Zonzi and Bryan Cristante with De Rossi still out. In front of them will be Nicolò Zaniolo, in the trequartista position. The 19-year-old has impressed filling in for Pellegrini and now has a real chance to cement his role in the team with the Roman out for an extended period. He’ll be flanked on the right by Cengiz Ünder, who scored a stunner on Sunday. With Florenzi sliding to right back to replace Davide Santon, Justin Kluivert will get the start on the left wing opposite Ünder. Lastly, Patrik Schick will again start in the lone striker role, which is one that hasn’t gotten the best out of him in the Capital. However, Saturday will be yet another chance for the young Czech to prove his worth.
Cagliari are expected to counter Roma with a 4-3-1-2 formation. However, they will be doing it without their midfield boss Nicolò Barella, who is suspended after receiving two yellow cards last week.