If it feels like just yesterday that Roma defeated Gent in Belgium, that’s because it practically was. Roma will play at the Sardegna Arena less than 72 hours after its victory against the Belgians. It’s a fact that Paulo Fonseca isn’t looking to turn into an excuse, but acknowledged could lead to some fatigue in his pre-match presser.
“I don’t want this question to be an excuse for any situation. I talked about it [playing on Monday] because I was asked and it’s the truth. We don’t have time to recover after the match against Gent. Does it affect the team? I do not know. I said it because at least 72 hours are important for me to recover the players
“The number of games is not important now, but the recovery time for this could be a factor.”
In addition to that short rest, Fonseca will have to deal with plenty of injuries and a suspension as he cobbles together a starting XI on Sunday. Roma will again be without long-term absentees Nicolò Zaniolo, Amadou Diawara, Davide Zappacosta, and Javier Pastore. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Diego Perotti were added to that seemingly ever-growing list. In addition, Fonseca will also be without the suspended Gianluca Mancini.
Fonseca said Perotti’s absence is due to a stomach bug rather than injury. He also updated the Pastore, Diawara, and Pellegrini injury situations, where there seems to be some optimism.
“Perotti is still rather weak after the stomach bug he had in the week. Pastore has an underlying physical problem that we’re trying to manage. It’s got much better in the last week. We’ll see how he does over the coming weeks.
“Lorenzo is doing well, recovering from injury. Diawara is improving day by day. We hope that he will soon be a solution to our advantage. Depending on how it goes next week, I think I can him [Diawara] at our disposal to play the next game “.
With the quick turnaround and the suspension to Mancini, the defense will see a few changes in front of Pau Lopez. Federico Fazio is expected to step into Mancini’s place alongside Chris Smalling in the center of defense. Meanwhile, Leonardo Spinazzola is expected to shift to his natural left back position after starting on the right against Gent. Bruno Peres is a slight favorite over Davide Santon to round out the back-line.
With Diawara still out, Fonseca will again turn to Jordan Veretout and Bryan Cristante in the midfield double pivot. Although, Fonseca pointed out that Veretout is dealing with his own minor issue. Roma’s manager doesn’t seem to be worried, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on tomorrow.
“Veretout has had a small issue with his foot, but he’s been training with us and is fit.”
Moving into the attack, Justin Kluivert and Herikh Mkhitaryan are expected to retain their starting places after combining for Roma’s only goal in Belgium. On the right, Carles Perez is expected to be replaced by Cengiz Ünder. However, the biggest surprise in the XI looks to be at striker. When asked if Dzeko could be rested, Fonseca only said that Kalinic will play.
“If the question about Dzeko is to understand something more about the formation, I can tell you that Kalinic will play tomorrow “
Fonseca was coy in response. It makes you wonder if he could in fact look to mix the formation up a bit or simply just rest Dzeko. We’ll stick with the 4-2-3-1. but don’t be shocked if Dzeko and Kalinic both start.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Pau Lopez; Bruno Peres, Fazio, Smalling, Spinazzola; Cristante, Veretout; Ünder, Mkhitaryan, Kluivert; Kalinic. Manager. Fonseca
CAGLIARI (4-3-1-2): Cragno; Cacciatore, Klavan, Pisacane, Pellegrini; Ionita, Cigarini, Rog; Nainggolan; Joao Pedro, Simeone. Manager. Maran