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Probable Formations: CSKA Sofia vs Roma

Could we see some Primavera players make their senior squad debut in this essentially meaningless match?

Ascoli Calcio U19 v AS Roma U19 - Primavera 1 Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

As we’ve discussed plenty in recent weeks, Roma’s very manageable Europa League group has allowed Paulo Fonseca plenty of squad rotation without sacrificing results. And with Roma having already secured the top spot in the group, not only will Fonseca rotate heavily again, but he even left many of his big guns in the capital.

Missing out through injury in this one are Lorenzo Pellegrini, Gianluca Mancini, and Jordan Veretout. Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Leonardo Spinazzola, Roger Ibañez, Bryan Cristante, and Antonio Mirante will all be afforded a day of rest ahead of Sunday’s trip to Bologna. In a bit of good news, Chris Smalling has returned from injury after an eight match absence and should see some time to build back up to match fitness.

With the bulk of the first team out through rest or injury, we will see plenty of less frequent starters in this match. Smalling will play in this match, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to play a ton of minutes after such a long lay-off. Therefore, expect Fonseca to start with a backline of Federico Fazio centering Max Kumbulla and Juan Jesus with Smalling entering off the bench. Behind that group will be Pau Lopez in goal.

Moving forward to the midfield, with Pellegrini and Veretout out for this one, we will see Gonzalo Villar and Amadou Diawara starting. Flanking them should be Bruno Peres on the right and Riccardo Calafiori on the left.

Meanwhile, in attack Borja Mayoral will lead the line looking to build on his European goal scoring form. In support of Mayoral we will be Pedro who will miss out on Sunday’s match through suspension. Fonseca will rely on Pedro’s experience in this one with a fairly young line-up.

“Pedro will play tomorrow, as he will not play on Sunday. He has a great influence on youngsters, he is a great example, he works like a boy and he has great enthusiasm in training. It is not easy to be a player who has won a lot and have such motivation every day. This is why he is always a point of reference for others “.

A surprise inclusion, Tommaso Milanese, will join Pedro in the attacking midfield. The 18-year-old will make his first senior squad start and other youngsters could make their first appearances off the bench according to Fonseca.

“Yes, tomorrow Milanese will play as a starter and then we will see if there will be space for some other young players to play during the match. It is also an opportunity to improve the physical conditions of the players who have been injured, such as Smalling, Diawara, and others.”

While it will be exciting to see Milanese’s first start, one does have to wonder what this says about how Fonseca views Carles Perez.

CDT Probables vs CSKA Sofia