The matches are coming fast and furious these days for Roma. The Giallorossi are in their second of three straight weeks in which they play a Thursday Europa League match. However, unlike last week when Roma had three days of rest between their Serie A match against Benevento and Europa League clash with Young Boys, this time around the turnaround is a bit quicker.
This week, Roma will host CSKA Sofia at the Olimpico just three days after a hard fought 3-3 draw at the San Siro against Milan. With that in mind, Fonseca will likely make quite a few changes from the XI that battled hard against the Rossoneri. And if last week’s encounter against Young Boys is any indication, Fonseca could opt to change out almost his entire line-up.
Against the Swiss side, Roma made nine changes from its match against Benevento three days earlier. And while in theory, the idea of making so many changes to save some legs was sound, it didn’t quite play out on the pitch. In fact, Roma couldn’t find a breakthrough until some of the big guns entered off the bench.
Even with the mixed results on the pitch against Young Boys, with Fiorentina coming to town on Sunday, I do expect Fonseca to rest many of his regulars again. And we could see as many as nine changes yet again.
So, with that in mind, I’ll try to project the places where Fonseca look to make changes while still giving the Giallorossi to take advantage of the weakest team in its group.
After another man of the match caliber performance by Antonio Mirante against Milan, it’s unlikely that Pau Lopez gets a look in league action anytime soon. Therefore, the Europa League looks like the Spaniard’s tournament for now.
In front of Lopez, it looks like Roma will finally be able to welcome Chris Smalling back. The Englishman returned to full training on Tuesday and will get the start on Thursday. Who joins him in defense could be one of Fonseca’s tougher calls. Roma didn’t concede a goal from open play against Young Boys, which could be good enough to earn Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus another start. Therefore, I’ll go with that duo, but don’t be surprised if we see Roger Ibañez and Max Kumbulla with Smalling.
Moving into the midfield, I think it’s almost a given that Gonzalo Villar and Bryan Cristante form the double pivot. Flanking them will likely be Bruno Peres on the left and Rick Karsdorp on the right with Davide Santon ruled out.
The attack is where we are most likely to see some of the regulars. I expect Borja Mayoral to get another chance after a disappointing debut as a starter in Switzerland.
Pedro has started every match so far and was the only regular to start in Bern. So, it would make sense to rest him. If Carles Perez is over the tonsillitis that kept him out of Monday’s match then he should start. Fonseca confirmed that Mayoral start, so I expect him to lead the line with Lorenzo Pellegrini playing a more advanced role with Perez.