Despite it only being matchday two, derby week is upon us; the earliest it has ever happened. With that in mind, an early season game that normally wouldn’t take on much significance will be taken to another level. Mangers and players will be under the microscope, putting just a little added pressure on Paulo Fonseca and his squad. After last week’s 3-3 draw against Genoa, Fonseca will look to get things right this week to win his first Derby della Capitale, so, expect some changes to the starting XI.
Similar to last week, the Giallorossi have a fairly clean bill of health. The only absences through injury will again be Leonardo Spinazzola and Diego Perotti. Additionally, Fonseca hinted that Jordan Veretout is fit enough to go from the start if he chooses to deploy the Frenchman. Newcomer Chris Smalling will also be included in the matchday squad, even though it’s highly unlikely he plays.
Roma will of course line up in Fonseca’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation; one that brought great results in attack last week. However, on the defensive side of the ball there’s much room for improvement. With this in mind, expect to see changes in the rearguard, despite his words of encouragement for last week’s public enemy #1: Juan Jesus.
He’s alright. He better be OK because in football, nobody is error-free. Football is a sport for strong people, there is no space for those who do not have the strength to react. My players must react in times of adversity. For me, there are no singular mistakes, the errors are always of the team and the one who is most responsible is me. You will never hear me publicly pointing a finger at a single person. The player must be mentally strong. In the last match against Genoa, the problem was a collective one.
Pau Lopez will again start between the sticks. The Spaniard was hardly at fault for Genoa’s three tallies on his debut. Federico Fazio will start in the center of defense alongside Gianluca Mancini, who is likely to replace Juan Jesus (60%/40%). Meanwhile, Aleksandar Kolarov will again start at left fullback after an impressive showing against Genoa. Rounding out the defense at right fullback will likely be Davide Zappacosta. However, don’t expect that to mean Alessandro Florenzi will be benched.
The midfield situation leaves us with a lot of question marks at the moment. Bryan Cristante looks to be a likely starter with current projections again pairing him with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the double pivot. That would mean Nicolò Zaniolo at the trequartista position. However, it’s also very likely that Pellegrini could move up behind the striker with either Veretout or Amadou Diawara pairing with Cristante. That would provide a bit more cover for the defense against Lazio’s impressive attack. Gazzetta dello Sport currently has Zaniolo with 40% chance to start and the other two at 30%. So, keep an eye on that as we approach game time.
Leading the line in attack will be Edin Dzeko and flanking him on the right will be Cengiz Ünder. Both players came out of the gate firing on all cylinders last week and will again be key to Roma finding the back of the net. The left side of attack is still a bit up in the air with current projections pushing Florenzi up to left wing if Zappacosta starts at full back. If Fonseca opts of Justin Kluivert in attack then Florenzi will likely play D. Fonseca acknowledged that Florenzi in attack is possible but was coy on the topic.
Yes. It is a hypothesis we are considering, we worked on it during the week. Let’s see if I will opt for this solution.
Gazzetta currently puts the Spinazzola/Florenzi scenario at a 70% probability. It seems the more likely scenario to have the two more experienced players in the starting XI, considering the pressure that comes with a derby match. Below is the current projected formation (as of Saturday 9:00AM EST), but stay tuned. A lot can change between now and opening whistle with Fonseca holding his cards close to the vest during his pre-match presser.