As we mentioned prior to the Sampdoria match, Roma returned from the holiday break with a number of players due to miss time thanks to some minor injury issues. And unfortunately in a match begging for some turnover, Fonseca will once again be limited in his choices. Therefore, even though Roma have Inter looming in just four days, don’t expect more than a couple of changes against Crotone tomorrow.
Fonseca confirmed this in his press conference on Tuesday.
“As you just said, the game against Sampdoria was physically tough on us. The issue is we have not got time to recover. I’m not thinking about the next few games, just this one. It’s possible that I will make two or three changes. But even if you change two or three players, the approach from the team will not change. As for which players will play, we will have to see tomorrow.”
With Antonio Mirante, Leonardo Spinazzola, Riccardo Calafiori, Davide Santon, Pedro, and Federico Fazio out for this one, a number of positions will basically pick themselves, particularly in goal, where Pau Lopez will make his second straight start in Mirante’s absence.
Roma will also be somewhat thin for this one at wing-back. With Spinazzola, Calafiori, and Santon all remaining out, Fonseca will again turn to the reborn Rick Karsdorp on the right and Bruno Peres on the left. However, in a bit of good news, Fonseca is optimistic that Spinazzola will return for Sunday’s big match.
Center-back is one area in which Roma remain relatively deep, so this is likely where we will see one of the changes to which Fonseca alluded. It’s very likely Max Kumbulla is given a start in this one with most of the major publications predicting a rest for Roger Ibañez. He would play on the left side of Chris Smalling with Gianluca Mancini manning the right.
Moving into the midfield, we could see Fonseca make a change in the double pivot, with Bryan Cristante likely earning a start in this one alongside Jordan Veretout, which would also give some rest to youngster Gonzalo Villar.
During his press conference, Fonseca was asked if this match would be a good chance to give Carles Perez a start. However, Fonseca’s response didn’t exude much confidence in that happening.
“Carles has improved a lot, he has more confidence now. He could be an important player for the club. He’s developing.”
With Fonseca noncommittal on a Perez start, we’ll likely see the combo of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini again. It’s a combo that has been dangerous going forward, but Mkhi continues to pile up the minutes on his nearly 32-year-old legs. The same can be said for another likely starter: Edin Dzeko. Therefore, a couple of early goals for Roma could be just what the doctor ordered to limit their minutes ahead of Inter on Sunday, as well as, provide some important pitch time for Perez and Borja Mayoral.
Due to a slight muscular problem, Dzeko is likely to miss this match while Paulo Fonseca has now tested positive for COVID and has not traveled with the team to Crotone. Look for Mayoral to take Dzeko’s place in the lineup while Nuno Campos will handle the coaching duties tomorrow.
The prior update was written before news of Fonseca's negative COVID test became public. He will be available to coach tomorrow.