Roma returns to the pitch after last week’s loss to Juventus where the squad was down Chris Smalling, Pedro, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Stephan El Shaarawy. With those players missing, Roma was always seemingly going to be up against it at the Allianz Stadium.
This weekend, Paulo Fonseca will have a few more players at his disposal with the returns of Lorenzo Pellegrini from yellow card suspension and Pedro from injury. However, Smalling remains out injured and El Shaarawy hasn’t quite worked his way back to match fitness.
“Stephan hasn’t played in awhile so he’s still not in the most optimal condition to play, but we’re working to have him available to us as soon as possible,” said Fonseca.
Meanwhile, Fonseca may have a second absence to contend with in central defense. The manager revealed that Max Kumbulla picked up a slight problem in training yesterday and if the Albanian is unable to go that Bryan Cristante would fill-in in the back three.
Fonseca: “Kumbulla picked up a little problem in training yesterday. We will speak with the medical staff to see how he is – but if he isn’t going to be fit, then Cristante is a fine alternative.”— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) February 13, 2021
In his press conference, Fonseca was coy on a few positions, but goalkeeper was not one of them. The manager said that Pau Lopez would again be the man in Roma’s net. It also seems that he’s favoring the young back three of Roger Ibañez, Gianluca Mancini, and Kumbulla. However, the Kumbulla issue will likely force his hand and go with Cristante.
Moving forward, we should see a return to a 3-4-2-1 with just two central midfielders rather than last week’s 3-5-1-1 with a packed midfield. With Cristante likely employed on defense, Jordan Veretout and Gonzalo Villar will be that pair. Starting wide of them will be Leonardo Spinazzola on the left and Rick Karsdorp on the right.
Moving into the attack, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be paired anew with Pellegrini. The returns of Pellegrini and Pedro give Fonseca options in the attacking midfield, but it’s most likely the Italian starts alongside Mkhitaryan.
Fonseca, however, wouldn’t name a starter at striker ahead of tomorrow:
We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see who starts, but with a midweek Europa League match against Braga coming up, it’s likely that whoever doesn’t start this one will start against the Portuguese side. For now, I’ll tip Dzeko tomorrow with Mayoral getting the call against Braga.
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