After Roma’s frustrating 1-0 loss to Juventus this weekend, the Giallorossi are now traveling to Norway for their next match in the Europa Conference League. While their league play has had ups and downs, José Mourinho currently has an undefeated record in UEFA’s new cup tournament. Considering the putrid records of CSKA Sofia and Zorya Luhansk in the group stage, Bodø/Glimt might be the only other club in the group that’s worth a damn (though they haven’t played Roma yet, of course).
Bodø/Glimt vs. Roma: October 21st. 18:45 CET/12:45 EDT. Aspmyra Stadium, Bodø
These ECL matches have been somewhat boring to date, so it’s exciting that a match against Bodø/Glimt might result in something marginally more exciting for Romanisti beyond their first ninety minutes of play with a new fourth kit.
What To Watch For
Please, Sir, Can I Have Some Rotation?
If I’ve had one quibble with José Mourinho at the start of his time with Roma, it’s that he needs to do a bit of a better job with rotation. Granted, I happen to agree with him when he says that players like Riccardo Calafiori and Bryan Reynolds aren’t necessarily ready to be key rotation players for a club with Roma’s aspirations, but the only way they’ll get there is if they get time to play. Even if he’s been reassured that there will be significant transfers into the club this January, we’re still two months away from January, so he quite simply has to do a better job with what he’s got in-house for the time being.
Given that most of the rotation we’ve seen from Mourinho to date has been during the European Conference League, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same tomorrow against Bodø/Glimt. However, I’m really hoping that Mourinho begins to take note of who seizes on their opportunities in the ECL, and gives them real starts and minutes in Serie A as a consequence. Running players into the ground has dire long-term consequences in Rome; just ask Luciano Spalletti and Paulo Fonseca, who found their star players, never gave them a moment to breathe, and then were completely lost when those players inevitably picked up injuries.
Darboe To Start?
A prime candidate to rotate in against Bodø/Glimt is undoubtedly Ebrima Darboe. The Ghanaian international who looks set to extend his stay in Rome until 2026 has been one of the bright spots for José Mourinho when it comes to playing the kids so far this season, albeit at the expense of youngsters like Gonzalo Villar, but even beyond that, Darboe has just looked impressive period when given the chance. There’s little to no doubt that the Giallorossi will invest in a new midfielder this January, but the more Darboe can do in the here and now to indicate his worth to Mourinho and Tiago Pinto, the less likely it is that he’ll suffer the same fate as Amadou Diawara and Gonzalo Villar, except in the spring instead of the fall.
Who Comes In For Zaniolo?
With Nicoló Zaniolo likely out until Roma’s match against Milan, there’s a gaping hole on Roma’s right flank that will need to be filled. Fortunately, Roma has a good amount of depth up front, with players like Stephan El Shaarawy and Eldor Shomurodov all regularly making a case that they should be starting matches more frequently. Yet I’m going to suggest that Mourinho might want to look towards one of his Primavera graduates for his short-term Zaniolo replacement: Polish-Italian Nicola Zalewski.
Yes, Zalewski got into some hot water recently for an Instagram Live video where a friend of his suggested they’d all be doing cocaine, but everything I’ve seen from the 19-year-old winger/attacker suggests that outside of Darboe and Calafiori, he is the Primavera player most primed for a breakout season. The obvious caveat is that he’s still only 19; he will inevitably make mistakes. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to start him now against Bodø/Glimt; give El Shaarawy or Shomurodov the start in Serie A where the match conclusion doesn’t feel 99% guaranteed and give Zalewski the chance to show his stuff outside of the training pitch. I promise it won’t be too painful, José.
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