Just when it looked like Roma was beginning to get healthier last week, the Lupi again suffered injuries. This time around Davide Santon went down, as did Diego Perotti. Both will be unavailable for today’s match with Samp, as will Florenzi, Pastore, and Coric. However, in a bit of a good news, Stephan El Shaarawy has returned to the fold after missing the last two matches. Ranieri gave an update on the status of those players during Tuesday’s pre-match presser.
“[Davide] Santon will have a scan today and I fear it could be serious. He’s indestructible: he plays through anything and never stops so if he did, it must be something serious. [Diego] Perotti’s problem is not serious but he’s not available for this game. [Stephan] El Shaarawy is fit and he’ll be in the squad. [Javier] Pastore is working on his fitness but isn’t ready yet. [Alessandro] Florenzi will return to group training next week.”
Ranieri is expected to employ a 4-2-3-1 against the blucerchiati while making a few personnel changes from Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Fiorentina. Ranieri confirmed that he will stick with Antonio Mirante in goal after he benched Robin Olsen on Wednesday.
“Mirante played well on Wednesday and I think I’ll stick with him. Otherwise they would both be unhappy. I’m reluctant to change. I wanted to give Robin a bit of a rest but I rate him very highly.”
In front of Mirante, some of the choices on defense will be a bit conditioned. With Florenzi and Santon out injured, Karsdorp and Kolarov will be near certainties to play the two fullback positions. Centering them will be Kostas Manolas, back from suspension, and likely Federico Fazio. Ranieri was non-committal on Manolas’ partner. Whoever it is, they will be tasked with stopping capocannoniere contender Fabio Quagliarella.
“All three are very good players. Fazio was superb in the second half against Fiorentina and looked like the Fazio of old: determined, aggressive and winning duels. Juan Jesus has always done very well when I’ve called on him. Ivan is an intelligent lad and perhaps the best at building play. All three of them can partner Manolas.”
The double pivot in the midfield will likely see Bryan Cristante retain his place over Steven Nzonzi. He is expected to be paired with Daniele De Rossi, who remained on the bench for Wednesday’s match. The Captain isn’t 100% himself and Ranieri wouldn’t say just how many minutes he has in his legs, but did reiterate DDR’s desire to fight for the club.
“We have to see who is available. A lot of the lads don’t have 90 minutes in them yet. Daniele wanted to play the other day. He’s a fighter and he can help us a lot in the run-in.”
In front of the double pivot will be a very young quartet of attackers, as Perotti is out and Dzeko is likely to be rested. Based on Ranieri’s comments Dzeko seems to be banged up as well.
“...I’m happy with him and I hope he’s ok because he’s taken a lot of blows”
He will be replaced by Patrik Schick, who will hope to conjure up his old Samp form in Genoa, when he is afforded his umpteenth opportunity to show what he’s got for Roma. The trio of attackers behind Schick is expected to be Justin Kluivert (2 assists Wednesday), Nicolò Zaniolo (1 goal Wednesday), and Lorenzo Pellegrini. Pellegrini, like Cengiz Ünder, doesn’t have 90’ in his legs, but is expected to get the nod over the Turk. However, expect to see both at some point. With this in mind, Ranieri made comments on both.
“He’s (Pellegrini) ok but he can’t play 90 minutes yet. I have to decide whether to start with him or use him from the bench. You all saw how the game changed when he came on. He’s very clever and he can play in the hole, which is a difficult position. He’s quick enough to get away from his marker and has stamina. He’s an important part of this Roma team.”
“He’s (Ünder) working very well but he can’t play 90 minutes. I have to decide my starting line-up between tonight and tomorrow.”