As Roma enters Europa League play on Thursday, it no longer has any senior side players in COVID-19 quarantine. This week, Max Kumbulla was officially cleared to return to training, ending a revolving door of no fewer than a half dozen Giallorossi to miss time due to the virus. However, the team is still far from full strength.
Chris Smalling and Davide Santon’s return dates are still in question as they recover from minor injury issues. Meanwhile, Gianluca Mancini and Jordan Veretout exited Sunday’s match with minor muscle issues. Luckily for the Giallorossi, after undergoing scans on Wednesday both players were cleared of structural damage. While that is good news, neither will be available for Young Boys.
When you couple the players still working back to fitness from injury and COVID-19 with the jam packed schedule, Paulo Fonseca should be turning to a lot of reserve in Europa League play yet again. It’s a strategy that has worked well thus far, so the Giallorossi will hope that going back to the well once more will create positive results.
Starting in the back, Pau Lopez will get the start in net. After Sunday’s poor performance from Antonio Mirante, one wonders if Lopez could be auditioning for some domestic playing time. In front of Lopez, we could see a makeshift backline of Bryan Cristante, Juan Jesus, and Federico Fazio. However, we should see Kumbulla at some point in the match as he needs to recover his fitness after a spell with COVID-19.
Moving to the midfield, we should see a double pivot of Gonzalo Villar and Amadou Diawara. Flanking them should be Riccardo Calafiori on the left and Bruno Peres on the right to give Leonardo Spinazzola a much needed rest.
Meanwhile in attack, I expect to see Borja Mayoral leading the line with Dzeko likely getting some minutes off the bench. In support of Mayoral, Carles Perez should start in tandem with one of Pellegrini, Pedro, or Mkhitaryan. I’m going to tip Pellegrini to start as he starts to get his legs back after his quarantine. However, I’d expect to see him be relieved by one of the veterans with Sassuolo looming in 72 hours.