All season long José Mourinho has rattled on about Roma’s lack of depth when many in the fanbase and media have asked why he consistently starts the same 12-13 players in Serie A. Well, on a cold Thursday night in Norway, we got the answer as to why Mourinho prefers to stay away from rotation, especially heavy rotation in the league.
We won’t recount the disaster that was against Bodø in the Conference League this past weekend. But, we must use it as a reminder as to why the probable formation is no longer much of a guessing game in Roma’s Serie A matches, especially those against the league’s elite.
There was some doubt about the status of two of Roma’s regular starters heading into this one: Rick Karsdorp and Nicolo Zaniolo. Karsdorp was an injury doubt last weekend against Juventus and skipped Thursday’s trip to Norway. Meanwhile, Zaniolo came off injured after just 25 minutes against the Old Lady—leaving us to fear the worst.
But, Mourinho provided good news on the two in his pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“Both of those players are doing fine, they are fit to play. The team will be the same one that went out against Juventus – with Karsdorp and Zaniolo both in good shape.”
With that clarification, only Leonardo Spinazzola and Chris Smalling remain out injured. And in the same quote updating the status on those two, the Roma CT took all the guesswork out of Sunday’s XI.
The coach confirmed that the entire starting XI from last weekend’s frustrating defeat to Juventus is ready to go, including Zaniolo. With that being the case, Rui Patricio will be in goal behind a defense of Karsdorp, Gianluca Mancini, Roger Ibanez, and Matias Vina from right to left. The midfield double pivot will again be Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout. Meanwhile, Zaniolo, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Henrik Mkhitaryan will play in support of lone striker Tammy Abraham in the attack.