I might not have enough fingers and toes to count all the times that I’ve written “Roma will be shorthanded” in one of these probable formation pieces this season. In fact, the only reason I might is because I didn’t start writing these until close to midway through the season. Well, I can figuratively raise another digit this week as, drum roll please... Roma will be shorthanded yet again.
This week it’s as a result of both injury and suspension. Daniele De Rossi, Davide Santon, and Rick Karsdorp all remain out injured. The good news is that Kostas Manolas is back from the muscle issue that kept him out last minute against Inter. The bad news is both Bryan Cristante and Nicolò Zaniolo hit their quota for suspension through yellow card accumulation; in the same week. So, with that Roma are without a number of key players in the midfield.
SQUAD LIST | | v. Cagliari (h)— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 26, 2019
Here's who is available for Saturday's game at the Stadio Olimpico. Cristante and Zaniolo are suspended, but Manolas is included...
#ASRoma #RomaCagliari pic.twitter.com/BZ9k7qsG8Q
While the absences of Santon and Karsdorp limit Roma’s depth in defense, it’s the midfield where there is a true dearth of options. The 4-2-3-1 has brought greater defensive solidarity for the Giallorossi under Ranieri, having allowed just one goal in their last three. However, with both De Rossi and Cristante missing out, Ranieri will have to decide whether or not to stick with the double pivot. It’s likely that Roma will again come out in the same formation, but there is a possibility of more of a 4-4-2 look, as well.
In the event that Ranieri sticks with what’s been working in the 4-2-3-1, then Steven Nzonzi will be relied on to do the bulk of the defensive work in the midfield, as he’ll be flanked by Lorenzo Pellegrini in the double pivot. Even if Ranieri does opt for more of a 4-4-2 look, expect to see those two in the center of the park.
Along the back, Antonio Mirante will retain his place in goal, as he has been a big part of Roma’s defensive 180. The full back positions will again be manned by Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov with both Karsdorp and Santon out. Meanwhile, Federico Fazio will be flanked by Manolas in the middle, as along, as the Greek is ready to go from the opening whistle. If he’s not expect to see Juan Jesus flanking Fazio.
In attack Edin Dzeko, who is coming off a strong performance against Inter, will lead the line. Ranieri seemed to hint that it’s more likely that Dzeko play as a lone striker.
“He’s a player that loves getting involved in the play. At San Siro we saw him in his natural habitat: dropping deep and providing a focal point for players. He can play with another player beside him, but they need to understand his play and get forward at the right time.”
Behind Dzeko in the three attacking midfield positions is where there could be some variability. Stephan El Shaarawy, has been in sizzling form will start on the left. Meanwhile, Cengiz Ünder seems to have a slight edge to start on the right over Justin Kluivert. The trequartista position is the big question mark heading into Saturday with it likely coming down to Patrik Schick and Javier Pastore. Ranieri was asked about both players during his pre-match presser, but didn’t give much time indication either way.
“I don’t know whether he [Pastore] can play from the start, but he’s been doing very well for a week or so. He’s recovering quickly and he seems motivated.”
“I’m convinced that he’s [Schick] a great player. Some players mature more quickly than others. He has everything he needs to become a top player.”