Roma has fought through weeks of midweek Europa League fixtures sandwiched in between the traditional weekend league matches. In those matches, Paulo Fonseca was afforded the luxury of heavy rotation thanks to a very navigable group for the Giallorossi. However, with this past Thursday’s league fixture against Torino, Fonseca couldn’t risk wholesale changes from Sunday’s win in Bologna. Fonseca confirmed that he wouldn’t tinker much with an in-form side.
“It’s true that we don’t have a lot of time to recover, but I think I’ll only make two or three changes at most. I don’t want to make too many changes, the team is on a good run right now.”
That means that Roma’s regular XI may be fighting through just a bit more fatigue than usual when it faces Atalanta in Bergamo tomorrow. Luckily for the Giallorossi, La Dea will be in the same boat after facing Juventus on Wednesday. And in a somewhat shocking turn of events, it appears as if Papu Gomez won’t be on Atalanta’s matchday roster, as he now has one foot fully out the door of the Gewiss Stadium.
On another positive note for Roma, Fonseca has almost his whole squad at his disposal with Bryan Cristante returning from suspension and Davide Santon back from injury. That means the only two players unavailable through injury are long term absentees Nicolò Zaniolo and Javier Pastore.
Even though he wouldn’t confirm either way who would start, one of the two to three changes alluded to by Fonseca could certainly be in goal. Pau Lopez has started the last two matches but made a key mistake on Torino’s only goal on Thursday. Considering the magnitude of this match for Roma, I’d tip Antonio Mirante to start.
In front of the Italian, I’d expect to see the same back three that started on Thursday: Chris Smalling, Roger Ibañez, and Gianluca Mancini. Max Kumbulla could be a candidate to start as well, but I’d expect Fonseca to go with what seems to be his preferred trio when everyone is fit.
Moving into the midfield, I believe Fonseca will opt for the experienced duo of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro in the attacking roles. That means Gonzalo Villar likely drops to the bench with Lorenzo Pellegrini sliding back to partner Jordan Veretout in central midfield—although, Pellegrini is now in doubt thanks to some ankle issues.
Meanwhile, the third change will be at right wing-back where Rick Karsdorp will replace Bruno Peres in the starting XI. Opposite Karsdorp will be Leonardo Spinazzola. Rounding out the line-up will be Edin Dzeko.