Roma has navigated the 2019-20 version of the walking wounded tour about as well as could be hoped. With Gianluca Mancini excelling as a makeshift midfielder and Javier Pastore looking rejuvenated, Fonseca has found ways to make a short-handed roster function. The Giallorossi were able to not only survive, but at times thrive during an injury plagued October.
Now, November starts with Roma’s most difficult opponent to date; at least on paper. No disrespect to Atalanta. For this one, the Giallorossi will be without the usual plethora of players: Pellegrini, Cristante, Mkhitaryan, Diawara, Kalinic, and Zappacosta. However, the biggest loss for this one may be through suspension rather than injury.
All through the injury crisis, Roma has had one thing going for it— a full array of center backs. That has allowed Mancini to step into the midfield. Now with Federico Fazio suspended, Fonseca must pick his poison. Does he go with Mancini on D and play someone like Pastore next to Jordan Veretout? Or does he keep Mancini in the midfield and hand Mert Cetin his first Roma start?
Both options come with risks. Pastore, for all his good form, excels higher up the pitch. Meanwhile, Cetin has played sparingly. Despite showing flashes of potential against Milan, he’s young and raw and Napoli has a formidable attack. Fonseca did acknowledge that Cetin is a possibility.
“Yes, he could. He’s a good lad and he’s learning every day. He could be an option but I don’t know yet.”
Meanwhile, he also declared that Pastore’s fitness is up to snuff. So, expect him to potentially start again. Great news considering his current form. On Pastore, Fonseca had the following to say.
“Pastore’s situation is very clear to me – it’s all about fitness. He’s playing well. We don’t have many alternatives at the moment and he’s fine.”
The latest projections see very few changes from the midweek victory at Udinese. Leonardo Spinazzola, who was held out after cramping against Milan, will return to the XI. Gazzetta dello Sport currently favors Cetin to replace the suspended Fazio. That leaves Mancini and Pastore in the same roles that has seen them excel in recent weeks.