Roma’s schedule will get a bit busier this week with the Europa League group phase kicking off on Thursday. On Sunday, the Giallorossi kicked off a stretch of seven matches in a three weeks. Fun for the fans, but a challenge for managers.
With that in mind, Paulo Fonseca will have to find a delicate balance between keeping players fresh and building continuity within his squad. This is a bit more difficult with a handful of players consistently missing out injured. For Thursday’s match against İstanbul Başakşehir, Fonseca will continue to be without Cengiz Ünder, Diego Perotti, Davide Zappacosta, and Chris Smalling. There was hope that Smalling would be back for this one for his debut, but the Englishman won’t be risked.
Ecco i nostri convocati per il match d'esordio in @EuropaLeague ⚡️#RomaIBFK #UEL pic.twitter.com/npnRmU8uon— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) September 18, 2019
Current projections have Fonseca making as many as five changes from Sunday’s victory over Sassuolo. The first change could likely come in goal where Antonio Mirante could be given the nod in place of Pau Lopez; perhaps an indication that the veteran Italian could get some cup starts.
In front of Mirante, changes are likely in defense, as well. Federico Fazio is expected to retain his starting spot with Gianluca Mancini and Juan Jesus in contention for the other spot. On the flanks Alessandro Florenzi is expected to start on the right, while Leonardo Spinazzola is expected to spell Kolarov on the left.
Amadou Diawara is expected to get his first Roma start in the double pivot. He’ll pair Bryan Cristante, making his fourth straight start to open the season.
Meanwhile, the attack is expected to remain largely unchanged. Justin Kluivert and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are again projected to start on the injury depleted wings. Edin Dzeko will also continue to lead the line with Nikola Kalinic not yet match fit. Rounding out the XI will be Nicoló Zaniolo, who will spell Sunday’s man of the match, Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Projected XI (according to Gianluca Di Marzio)
Roma (4-2-3-1): Mirante; Florenzi, Fazio, Juan Jesus/Mancini, Spinazzola; Cristante, Diawara; Kluivert, Zaniolo, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko.