After Paulo Fonseca decided to announce his whole formation prior to the Juve match at last week’s press conference, there was no need for my regular probable formations. However after that oddity from Fonseca, things are back to normal this week. We can again speculate as to Roma’s starting XI as they take on a less intimidating black and white striped opponent this week at the Dacia Arena.
While Fonseca didn’t name any starters ahead of today’s match against Udinese, he did indicate at Friday’s press conference that not much will change from last weekend’s XI that squared off against Juve.
“I can’t always give you the team. I’m not planning on making many changes, but we’ll see tomorrow.”
With that in mind, I wouldn’t expect more than a change at right wing back, if any at all. Starting in the back expect to see the young trio of Gianluca Mancini, Roger Ibañez, and Marash Kumbulla defending in front of Antonio Mirante in goal.
As we discussed on our latest episode of Across the Romaverse, one of the biggest oddities thus far is Mirante starting the first two matches over Pau Lopez. Yet, it seems like that will continue ahead of next week’s international break.
Meanwhile, Jordan Veretout and Lorenzo Pellegrini put in a strong shift in the center of the park and I wouldn’t expect to change things there for this one. Fonseca seemed particularly impressed with Pellegrini, who normally plays in a more advanced role.
“Pellegrini can play in various different positions. He’s always played very well in that position. He played brilliantly against Juventus.”
With those high praises being sung at Friday’s presser, it seems like another match starting from the bench for Amadou Diawara. That’ll be something to keep an eye on after Diawara’s agent made some inflammatory comments about his future this week. However, with a long season ahead, having Pellegrini as an additional option in the double pivot along with Veretout, Diawara, Cristante, and Villar can only benefit Roma in the long run.
Shifting out wide to wing back, expect Leonardo Spinazzola to start again after another strong performance on the left flank. If there’s any question mark as to the starting line-up for this one it’s on the opposite flank and Fonseca was very ambiguous when asked about the first choice at the right wing back position.
“None of them. Ricky [Karsdorp] played in the first game and did very well, just like [Davide] Santon against Juventus. Bruno is more offensive than the others, but we have to remember that he only started training a few days ago and isn’t yet fully fit. We need to wait for him to come back.”
Considering the lack of fitness mentioned by Fonseca I wouldn’t expect Peres to start. Meanwhile, Karsdorp didn’t travel with squad after his first match “cramps”. Therefore, I’m tipping Santon for his second consecutive start.
Rounding out the starting XI, expect the veteran trio in attack again with Pedro and Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing behind Edin Dzeko.
With the staring XI a carbon copy from last week’s match, we can only hope that Roma jump out to an early lead and Fonseca trusts his reserves a bit more to spell some guys in the second half. After all, youngsters like Carles Perez, Gonzalo Villar, and Riccardo Calafiori will need minutes if they’re to develop to their potential and become important players for the Giallorossi.