Roma received a big boost ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Stadio Dall’Ara as it prepares to face Bologna, as both Jordan Veretout and Lorenzo Pellegrini have been declared fit enough to start against the Rossoblu. That good news comes after the midfield duo exited the last two league matches through injury.
With the recovery of his top choice midfielders, Fonseca has almost his whole roster back in the fold. However, Gianluca Mancini will miss out on this one, as well as long term absentees Javier Pastore and Nicolò Zaniolo. Fonseca hopes to have Mancini back on Thursday against Torino.
Antonio Mirante, made the traveling squad but was limited in training this week, so Pau Lopez will get just his second league start in goal. It could be an audition of sorts for Lopez, who has seemingly fallen out of favor with Fonseca in his second season with the Giallorossi. That being said, the Roma manager spoke highly of Lopez.
Fonseca: “Pau Lopez has always trained well, he’s always worked hard and done well when called upon to play. He’ll start tomorrow.”
Chris Smalling did return against CSKA Sofia in the Europa League midweek off the bench—playing 45 minutes. However, Fonseca made it clear in his press conference that Smalling is still working back to fitness and not yet ready to play 90. Therefore, he confirmed that Cristante would start.
”Cristante will play tomorrow. I’m very satisfied with how he has performed as a central defender.”
Fonseca: "It was good for Chris Smalling to get 45 minutes under his belt in midweek. He needs to build his way back up to full fitness and he still needs to do that before he is ready to play at his best for 90 minutes again."#ASRoma #BolognaRoma pic.twitter.com/8fcgsYOYAw— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 12, 2020
That means in front of Lopez, Roma will deploy the same back three that we saw against Sassuolo last weekend: Cristante flanked by Kumbulla and Ibañez.
As mentioned earlier Veretout and Pellegrini will give Roma a big boost in this one. However, it’s likely that thanks to Pedro’s red card we will see Pellegrini playing more of an advanced role. That would open up a spot for Gonzalo Villar to start alongside Veretout in the central midfield. Flanking them will be Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp.
In the attack, we’ll see Pellegrini replace Pedro alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan. That pair will look to feed lone striker Edin Dzeko, who will look to feast on the Bolognese defense.