Roma has dealt with plenty of injuries this season. Probably more than any one team should ever see in a single season. However, as the season enters the home stretch, the roster is close to being at full strength with only three players missing out on Sunday’s match at the Marassi. Roma will be without Captain Daniele De Rossi, who will likely target a return against Juve next week, Diego Perotti, and Davide Santon. Meanwhile, Justin Kluivert, one of last week’s stars, has recovered from a minor muscular injury to make the traveling squad. As has Edin Dzeko who was a slight doubt during the week.
This week, Roma also welcome back Bryan Cristante and Nicolò Zaniolo, who were on yellow card suspension against Cagliari. The reintroduction of those two, coupled with the standout performances from Javier Pastore and Kluivert last week, means Claudio Ranieri will have some decisions to make when filling out his team sheet. Will he ride the hot hands or go with the regulars?
Whomever Ranieri chooses for the XI, expect him to continue with the same 4-2-3-1 that has been his preferred formation since taking over. The set-up, paired with Ranieri’s tactics, has worked wonders for Roma’s defense in recently weeks.
Starting in the back, it is no surprise that Antonio Mirante will retain his position between the sticks. The veteran Italian has also been instrumental in helping fix Roma’s defensive woes and has three clean sheets in his last four starts. Expect the back four in front of Mirante to remain unchanged from last weekend at the Olimpico. This means Aleksandar Kolarov, Federico Fazio, Kostas Manolas, and Alessandro Florenzi from left to right.
While the defensive selection looks pretty straight forward, Ranieri will be presented with big decisions in midfield and attack. First, he will have to decide who starts next to the seemingly reborn Steven N’Zonzi in the double pivot: Does he reintroduce Cristante or sit Lorenzo Pellegrini deep again? Indications from sources around Italy suggest Cristante will get the nod.
If Cristante gets the nod sitting deep, then Lorenzo Pellegrini will likely start at trequartista; meaning Pastore starting from the bench. Flanking Pellegrini will undoubtedly be Stephan El Shaarawy, who is coming off another strong performance on the left. Meanwhile, Zaniolo probably starts on the right with Kluivert not quite at 100%. Rounding out the XI will be Dzeko leading the line.