It should come as no surprise to you that the injury bug continues to bite Roma. However, the squad will receive a big boost this week with the return of Captain Daniele De Rossi; after just about three months on the sidelines for the skipper. De Rossi might not have many minutes in his legs after the long lay-off, but should provide a psychological boost, if nothing else, for a tough away fixture. While, EDF now has his full complement of midfielders, he is deprived of wingers; Cengiz Ünder and Diego Perotti are out, as is Juan Jesus in defense.
As usual, Robin Olsen will be manning the Roma goal. In front of him, three-quarters of the Roma defense looks to be set with Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio in the heart of the back line. Aleksander Kolarov will take up his typical position wide left. The only place up for grabs seems to be right back. According to EDF, Alessandro Florenzi still isn’t at his best, so Rick Karsdorp and Davide Santon are both in the running for a start.
EDF: "Karsdorp is in the running with Santon to play at right back. Nzonzi offers us physicality, and has recovered, so he could be very useful in this game. Regardless of potential suspensions, I’ll put out the best line-up I can."#ASRoma #AtalantaRoma pic.twitter.com/C09pVjqmLi— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) January 26, 2019
Based on EDF’s quote, it looks like Steven N’Zonzi should get the start next to Bryan Cristante in the double pivot. This would give Roma a more physical presence than they’ve had in recent weeks with Lorenzo Pellegrini flanking Cristante. The most variability in Sunday’s formation will likely be in the attacking trio in front of Cristante and N’Zonzi.
With Perotti and Ünder both out, only Stephan El Sharaawy and Justin Kluivert remain as true wingers on the roster. Il Faraone is expected to start on the left, after his match winning goal last week against Torino. However, the right wing and trequartista positions seem to be undecided. Pellegrini, like Florenzi, needs to be evaluated closer to game time to determine if he’s fit enough to start.
EDF: "Zaniolo playing out wide is an option for us - and the same goes for Schick. Lorenzo Pellegrini and Florenzi aren’t fully fit – we’ll assess them today.”— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) January 26, 2019
#ASRoma #AtalantaRoma pic.twitter.com/skW8YEPoH5
If he is, he’ll like slot in at trequartista, which means Nicolo Zaniolo could slide out right. If he’s not, then Zaniolo seems the likeliest candidate to play behind the striker. This would mean Patrik Schick potentially starting out wide. Of course, EDF could always decide to go more traditional and just start Kluivert, but most projections don’t have him going this route for whatever reason. Even if Schick doesn’t start wide, it’ll almost certainly be Edin Dzeko playing the lone striker role in front of whoever ends up making up the attacking trio with El Sharaawy. EDF is confident the goals will begin to come again soon for the big Bosnian.
With so many question marks entering this match, it’s hard to say for certain who will start. Taking into account Di Francesco’s comments about Florenzi and Pellegrini, we’ll go with the most recent projection from Gazzetta dello Sport with those two on the bench.