The Giallorossi host Monday Night Calcio on the peninsula this week looking to earn three crucial points. Spezia comes to town following consecutive league defeats for Jose Mourinho’s side. Roma enters the match sitting provisionally in 8th place with the rest of the matchday schedule completed. And if there’s anything that this weekend taught us, it’s that there aren’t any simple matches in Italy’s top flight. Just ask Juventus, AC Milan, Napoli, and Lazio about that.
Those four teams all dropped points to sides in the bottom half of the league. That presents Roma with an opportunity to pull level with Juve in sixth, while pushing ahead of Lazio and surprise outfit Empoli. Spezia will be no pushover though, as Roma’s recent history against that side suggests. And in order to earn the victory, Mourinho will be without some crucial pieces.
For this one, Mourinho will be without a quintet of Italian internationals: Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicoló Zaniolo, Stephan El Shaarawy, Gianluca Mancini, and Leonardo Spinazzola. Carles Pérez was also ruled out by the manager, while Rick Karsdorp and Tammy Abraham return from their own one-match bans.
With so many key players missing out, it seems likely that Roma will stick with a three-man backline. That’s something that Mourinho said he doesn’t mind playing with, while also clarifying the differences between three and five at the back.
“I don’t like playing with five at the back, but I don’t mind playing with three [and two full-backs slightly higher up]. I really don’t mind playing with three at the back. Playing in that system with wide players who are not full-backs, but are more offensive players who can also adapt and help out with the defensive side. But I don’t like to play with a flat five at the back, no.”
If that is indeed the case then Max Kumbulla will slot into Mancini’s spot with Roger Ibañez and Chris Smalling.
With so many of his key attacking players out, Mourinho really only has to make one other big decision in his starting XI: the second striker position alongside Tammy Abraham. It’ll come down to Borja Mayoral and Eldor Shomurodov, while Mourinho also threw Felix’s name into the mix.
“As for Borja and Tammy, it’s true that they played well together. And it is also true that we don’t have Zaniolo, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy and Carles Perez available. So that pair is a possibility. But there is also Shomurodov who could play, there is also Felix who could play. We have a few options in that position.
After a strong performance against CSKA Sofia in the Europa League on Thursday, one would think that Mayoral should have a leg up on the Uzbeki.
Roma (3-5-2): Patricio; Ibañez, Smalling, Kumbulla; Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan, Cristante, Veretout, Viña; Mayoral, Abraham
Who should Mourinho start with Abraham?
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