I’m sure we all saw some turnover coming on Thursday when Roma traveled to Bern to face Young Boys to open Europa League play. But man, could anyone have seen the nine changes from the side that hammered Benevento last Sunday? How about Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio in the same starting XI in 2020? I guess that may sum up this calendar year in a microcosm.
Luckily, as strange as that line-up was to see and as lackluster as it performed, the five-sub rule allowed Roma win its third straight match in all competitions. Now, Roma head to the San Siro on Monday to face top of the table AC Milan with a fairly rested roster—something that could be important for a side that relies on three +30 year-old players in attack.
However, despite the rested legs, Roma will still be without Chris Smalling (minor knee issue) and Amadou Diawara (covid). Fonseca confirmed Smalling wasn’t ready for this one, but indicated optimism for a mid-week return for Roma’s next Europa League match.
Fonseca: “Chris Smalling is doing well but he won’t be ready for tomorrow’s match. I think he might be back for the Europa League game.”
With Smalling still out, Roma received a big boost in defense with the news that Gianluca Mancini’s positive covid test earlier in the week turned out to be a false positive. Therefore, Mancini is available and Romanisti will be spared the anxiety of Fazio or Bryan Cristante in the center of the defense trying to slow Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With then good news on Mancini, Roma should return to the 3-5-2-1 formation for this one after switching to a four man back line against Benevento. Even though Pau Lopez got the call on Thursday against Young Boys, I expect Antonio Mirante back between the sticks on Monday. Meanwhile, he should have Mancini, Roger Ibañez, and Max Kumbulla in front of him in the three man back line.
Moving into the midfield, Fonseca seems to prefer the double pivot of Jordan Veretout and Lorenzo Pellegrini. With Diawara still out, I’d expect to see the same pairing. Wide left of them will be Leonardo Spinazzola. Bruno Peres is a possibility on the right, but I think it’s more likely Davide Santon gets the nod to combat marauding runs of Theo Hernandez.
In attack, it’s almost a given these days that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro will play the two attacking midfield roles in support of Edin Dzeko.