It’s become pretty clear in the past few weeks that Paulo Fonseca will rely on heavy line-up rotation during the busy Europa League weeks. And up to this point, it’s been a fairly successful approach. Roma is unbeaten on the pitch in eight matches (4-4-0) when you remove the administrative loss to Hellas Verona on match day one.
Of course, the most disappointing result has to be Roma’s 0-0 home draw against CSKA Sofia last Thursday. However, despite that underwhelming performance from a mostly reserve filled line-up, Fonseca will give almost the same line-up another shot.
The Giallorossi are joint top of their Europa League group and are just one point off the Champions League places on the Serie A table. And for this one will welcome joint Group A leader Cluj comes to the Olimpico this week.
Just how much turnover this time around could be limited by who’s available. With Carles Perez and Davide Santon recently ruled out, Fonseca will be without two likely starters for this match. Add in the fact that Amadou Diawara and Riccardo Calafiori continue to be absent after their positive covid tests and Fonseca may not be able to rotate quite as much for this one.
Starting in the back, it looks like Pau Lopez has become Roma’s cup keeper and should start between the sticks. In front of him, Gianluca Mancini is still suspended and I find it unlikely Chris Smalling starts for the third straight match after a long injury lay-off. Therefore, I expect Max Kumbulla, Roger Ibañez, and Federico Fazio to get the nod.
Moving into the midfield, we’ll likely see Bryan Cristante and Gonzalo Villar in the double pivot to spell Lorenzo Pellegrini and Jordan Veretout. Out wide Leonardo Spinazzola will likely start on the left with Bruno Peres playing on the right. With Rick Karsdorp’s injury history it’s unlikely he starts back-to-back matches in quick succession.
Meanwhile, in attack it’s likely Fonseca will have to rely on Pedro and Henrikh Mkhitaryan again with Perez out. Rounding out the XI should be Borja Mayoral getting another chance at striker. The other option would be to start Edin Dzeko up top with Mayoral giving Pedro or Mkhi a night off.
Much like last week, I would expect Fonseca to try and limit the minutes of players like Spinazzola, Mkhi, and Pedro with early subs due to their heavy workloads.