With Amadou Diawara out injured and Bryan Cristante struggling, Romanisti have been clamoring for Gianluca Mancini to return to the midfield. Paulo Fonseca resisted that idea last week. But, this weekend with Diawara injured and Cristante suspended, the tifosi should get what they’ve been asking for. Fonseca wouldn’t commit to the idea in his presser, but did hint that it was likely.
“We’ll see tomorrow. It is a possibility, we had good games, with great balance, with him in midfield. It is a possibility.”
Mancini played well in the defensive midfield role back during the injury crisis of October. If he finds himself there again on Saturday, he will have to play just as well or better with high-powered Atalanta assaulting Roma’s suddenly susceptible defense. He would be partnered with Jordan Veretout in the double pivot.
If Fonseca does move Mancini out of defense and into the midfield, expect Federico Fazio to step in next to Chris Smalling at center back. Currently, Gazzetta dello Sport favors Leonardo Spinazzola and Bruno Peres to start at the fullback positions over Aleksandar Kolarov and Davide Santon at 60/40%. That back four would sit in front of Pau Lopez in goal.
The only other doubt in the starting XI is on the wings, where the major publications currently favor Carles Perez over Cengiz Ünder on the right and Mkhitaryan on the left. Perez was Roma’s lone bright spot last week, so don’t be surprised if he gets the nod over the struggling Turk. However, Fonseca seemed not to be crazy about the idea.
“I have to be honest: Carles came on and did very well against Bologna. He is understanding what football is like here. It is really different from Spain. I think it will be a very special match against Atalanta and perhaps not the best time to play him. It is a great responsibility, it would not be easy to play from the beginning tomorrow.”
So, it could be Ünder. Another possibility could be to start Mkhitaryan on the right and Perotti on the left. The wings really are up in the air right now.
Rounding out the starting XI will be Lorenzo Pellegrini at trequartista, playing behind lone striker Edin Dzeko.