There will be no rest for the weary as Roma follows up a hard-fought draw against second-place Inter with the Derby della Capitale. So, despite the relatively quick turnaround, considering the derby will be played on a Friday, Paulo Fonseca shouldn’t tinker much with what has been his best XI in recent weeks.
In terms of absentees, Roma should receive a boost to its bench with the news that Pedro returned to full training earlier this week. Meanwhile, Antonio Mirante, Riccardo Calafiori, and Davide Santon all remain out.
After making some fine saves against Inter, Pau Lopez will again start between the sticks. Lopez will look to build off of Sunday’s strong outing to gain a hold on Roma’s starting gig, while also exonerating himself of last season’s derby blunder that cost Roma three points.
In front of Lopez, will be the usual Pau Patrol. The goal hero of last week’s draw, Gianluca Mancini, will start on the right of the back three with Roger Ibañez on the left. Centering the two young center backs will be veteran Chris Smalling, who will look to neutralize Ciro Immobile after keeping Romelu Lukaku off the scoresheet against Inter.
The wing-back positions should remain unchanged despite Bruno Peres bringing a spark off the bench against Inter. Expect to see Rick Karsdorp on the right with Leonardo Spinazzola on the left as he looks to build back to 90-minute fitness. Who starts in the center of them will likely be Fonseca’s only real decision.
Against Inter, Fonseca went with Jordan Veretout and Gonzalo Villar who both had strong matches. However, after a superb outing against Crotone, Bryan Cristante again played well as a substitute against Inter. This is a match that could favor a physical presence like Cristante. Thus Fonseca will likely have to decide whether he wants Cristante’s big body and distribution or Villar possession game alongside Veretout. As well as Villar has played I feel like this may be the game where Fonseca goes to his veteran, so I’ll tip Cristante.
Rounding out the XI will be the attack. Edin Dzeko will still lead the line despite a poor performance against Inter. However, there will be some Romanisti hoping Borja Mayoral at least gets more minutes than the handful he got against Inter, especially if Dzeko underwhelms again. In support of Dzeko, we will again see Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini, as Pedro is not fit enough to start the match.