It’s been two weeks since we’ve seen Roma play a match and while nobody was injured over the international break, COVID-19 has taken its toll on the Giallorossi roster. The 2020-21 season always had the makings of a war of attrition thanks to the indiscriminate nature of the virus and Roma is certainly in a lean period right now. Every team in Serie A and Europe is dealing with virus related absences, but the Giallorossi have been hit particularly hard of late.
Of course, Amadou Diawara and Riccardo Calafiori were the first to be struck. Those two are finally back on a match day roster after about a month in recovery. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Pellegrini was able to bounce back more quickly and has recovered in less than a fortnight. However, none of those three are fit enough to start this match. While that trio has recuperated, Edin Dzeko, Max Kumbulla, Federico Fazio, and Davide Santon are all still recovering.
Added to that quintet of virus related absences is another big blow: Chris Smalling remains out after dealing with food poisoning over the last few days. Throw in long term absentees Nicolò Zaniolo and Javier Pastore and Roma is down eight first team players. On the injury front it’s not all bad news though as Antonio Mirante, Leonardo Spinazzola and Carles Perez have recovered from minor ailments. They along with Pellegrini have made the match day roster, which is full of Primavera names to fill in for the absences.
After digesting all of that we can try and predict who will feature for Roma tomorrow. With Kumbulla, Smalling, and Fazio all out there is a chance that Paulo Fonseca returns to a four man back line. However, I think it’s more likely he starts with the 3-4-2-1 that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. If he does, Bryan Cristante will center Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez and the formation can morph into more of a four man back line in game like we saw against Benevento. Starting in goal behind that trio will be Antonio Mirante after he missed out on the Genoa match.
Moving up the pitch, we should see Rick Karsdorp and Leonardo Spinazzola starting on the wings. Meanwhile, with Pellegrini not fit enough to start, Fonseca confirmed that Gonzalo Villar would start next to Jordan Veretout in the midfield.
There is optimism for Dzeko to return for next weekend’s match against Napoli, but with him absent again this week, Borja Mayoral will lead the line. Fonseca made that known in his Saturday press conference. He will be supported by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro.