The Giallorossi are still missing several key players as they head out of the international break; Edin Džeko, Max Kumbulla, and Chris Smalling are all out of the squad, with Džeko and Kumbulla still waiting to test negative for coronavirus. Fortunately, these key absences are coming at a relatively easy part of Roma’s schedule, with Fonseca’s men playing against CFR Cluj in the Europa League on Thanksgiving after tomorrow’s match versus I Crociati. With that, here are a few reasons to pay attention to match day eight:
Roma vs. Parma: November 22nd. 15:00 CET/9:00 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
What To Watch For
Will The Real Borja Mayoral Please Stand Up?
Mayoral has had a very up and down start to his time with the Giallorossi. His starts in the Europa League have been largely productive, scoring two goals in three appearances, but any time he’s appeared in Serie A, it’s been quite the disappointment. Mayoral isn’t intended to be a like-for-like replacement of Edin Džeko, but the way he’s disappeared against non-EL opponents, often appearing to be a black hole at the front of Roma’s attack, is discouraging.
Because of Džeko’s battle with COVID-19, though, Paulo Fonseca has essentially been forced to give Mayoral more time to get used to Serie A, and at his pre-match press conference, the Portuguese manager confirmed that Mayoral would get another start against the I Crociati. Parma aren’t exactly the most frightening opposition Roma will face on the peninsula this season, but they’re certainly better than some of the clubs the Giallorossi have faced in the Europa League group stages. If Mayoral wants to prove that he belongs in Rome on a full-time basis, scoring against Parma would be a step in the right direction.
Does Juan Get Back Into The Squad?
Although Džeko’s absence from Roma’s squad versus Parma is obviously the biggest loss, the sheer concentration of senior squad center-backs who are out of commission right now arguably presents a bigger depth problem for Paulo Fonseca. Kumbulla and Smalling are probably irreplaceable for Roma’s style of play, and with Federico Fazio not called up, Roma is quite threadbare in the defense.
It’s quite a good thing that this lack of depth is showing up versus the likes of Parma, if only because defending against Gervinho isn’t quite the same challenge as defending against Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or Romelu Lukaku. All these missing defenders will likely mean that Juan Jesus will take the pitch tomorrow, something I didn’t really see happening for him again in a Giallorossi kit. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how well (or how poorly) he plays against Parma, but despite the relatively small stature of the opponents, Jesus, like Mayoral, must show that he could still belong in Rome with success against I Gialloblu. His leash is probably much shorter than Mayoral’s, though; unless he plays a perfect game, the Roma bigwigs will probably still keep looking to terminate his contact.
Put The Promising Primavera Players On The Pitch, Paulo
Normally, this kind of match (against a relatively small club, right after the international break, before a mid-week EL matchup) would be a chance for Paulo Fonseca to rotate or even play some of the kids. Roma’s current injury situation is probably going to force his hand there a bit, with Gonzalo Villar and Borja Mayoral confirmed to be starting tomorrow. Nevertheless, Romanisti should still be crossing their fingers about maybe seeing one or two Primavera players take the field at the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow. Ruben Providence, Riccardo Calafiori, and Israeli striker Suf Podgoreanu have all been called up by Fonseca for tomorrow’s match, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Paulo use his subs to give one of these guys a taste of senior football.
Roma has handed out a flurry of renewals to players like Ruben Providence, Nicola Zalewski, and Riccardo Ciervo, and a renewal for Riccardo Calafiori is also likely in the near future. Although some of these renewals are just covering all the bases in the event that any of these players becomes a serviceable Serie A player, you have to imagine that signing these players to long-term deals will make Fonseca feel more comfortable with giving them a chance with the big boys. Who knows, maybe Roma’s solution at striker in a post-Edin Džeko world is already on the payroll?
Which Primavera player do you want to see subbed in against Parma?
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