Roma was on a roll heading into Sunday’s showdown in Bergamo, so Paulo Fonseca decided not to tinker too much with his in-form side. A few expected changes that saw Pedro, Antonio Mirante, and Rick Karsdorp return to the starting XI in favor of Gonzalo Villar, Pau Lopez, and Bruno Peres was all the shuffling that Fonseca did. It seemed like a shrewd decision based on Roma’s fine form heading into the match.
However, things didn’t quite go as planned as Roma squandered an early 1-0 lead to be overrun in the last 30 minutes of the match. Fonseca was again criticized for his in match management and substitutions (or lack thereof) as the match completely got away from Roma. With another defeat and those managerial decisions coming into question, Wednesday’s match against Cagliari, the final of 2020, takes on even greater importance for the Giallorossi and Fonseca.
During the course of the Atalanta match, Roma lost one of its biggest contributors of the season, Leonardo Spinazzola, to a minor muscle issue. Fonseca confirmed that the Italian will miss out on this one. Also, missing for this one are long-term absentees Nicolò Zaniolo and Javier Pastore.
Besides the forced change at the left wing-back, Fonseca did confirm that he will make some changes for this one.
“I will make a few changes tomorrow. We’ve had a lot of games recently and we need to make some changes in order to win what is another important game for us.”
Fonseca didn’t confirm where those changes would be on the pitch, only alluding to the fact that one or more of Calafiori, Kumbulla, and Villar could play. However, I think it’s likely that we do see some of those youngsters.
One of the places we will likely see a change is at goalkeeper after Mirante didn’t have a good performance on Sunday. Mirante’s poor performance means that Lopez will be given one more chance to impress before the winter mercato opens. Fonseca expressed confidence in both of his keepers in the pre-match press conference, but you’d imagine Roma will at least test the waters for a new shot-stopper in January.
In defense, we could see Kumbulla move into the back three in place of Chris Smalling, especially considering the Englishman has played two matches in quick succession after returning from a knee injury. So, I’ll go with the young backline of Kumbulla, Ibañez, and Mancini from left to right. However, don’t be surprised if Smalling starts with Ibañez getting a rest either.
Moving forward, Riccardo Calafiori should be in line for his first league start with Spinazzola out. I also expect to see Peres give Karsdorp a breather in this one.
In the center of the midfield, this could be a match where Villar starts with Veretout and Pellegrini pushed forward. However, with Fonseca confirming Pedro to start, I think we probably see Pellegrini and Veretout. Meanwhile, in attack it looks like we’ll see the veteran trio of Pedro, Mkhitaryan, and Dzeko yet again.