“We‘ll change 2-3 players for this game, the recovery times are short given the many games we’ve got. We will evaluate the possible changes so we have fresher players.”
With that quote from Paulo Fonseca during his pre-match press conference, don’t expect many changes from the XI that stopped Roma’s losing skid. With his side finally picking up a W against Gent, Fonseca will seemingly look for continuity over too many fresh legs despite the quick turnaround.
Fonseca will be without his usual quartet of injured outfield players for this one: Zaniolo, Diawara, Pastore, and Zappacosta. Meanwhile, back-up keeper Mirante also remains out.
Fonseca is expected to make the most changes along the back line in front of Pau Lopez. After sitting in favor of Federico Fazio in the Europa League, Gianluca Mancini is expected to regain his starting spot next to Chris Smalling. Meanwhile, Davide Santon is expected to get the start on the right side of defense. Aleksandar Kolarov has been in discussion lately due to his poor form, but Fonseca confirmed he will start again.
“Kolarov will play tomorrow, tomorrow his characteristics are fundamental. He too, like the whole team, has not done well, but has improved a lot. We must focus on what we’ve done well.”
The midfield double pivot is expected to remain unchanged. Bryan Cristante has drawn plenty of criticism for his often subpar performances in that role, but had a strong game Thursday. So, he will flank Jordan Veretout again.
Meanwhile, there is expected to be one change in attack with Henrikh Mkhitaryan replacing Diego Perotti on the left. After scoring his first Roma goal against Gent, Carles Perez will start again on the right. Edin Dzeko will of course lead the line. And despite his struggles in 2020, Fonseca will stick with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the #10 role. Fonseca had the following to say about Pellegrini in his presser.
“I’m going to keep picking Pellegrini. He needs to know I have faith in him. First of all, we have to figure out what hasn’t been working - and then it’s important to give him the chance to fight to try and change things.”
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Pau Lopez; Santon, Mancini, Smalling, Kolarov; Cristante, Veretout; Perez, Lo. Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko. Manager: Fonseca.
LECCE (4-3-2-1): Gabriel; Donati, Lucioni, Rossettini, Calderoni; Majer, Deiola, Barak; Mancosu, Shakov; Lapadula. Manager: Liverani.
Should Fonseca continue to start Pellegrini despite his poor form?
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