Tiago Pinto was unable to unload either Federico Fazio or Juan Jesus over the winter mercato. Much to the chagrin of most tifosi, the two surplus defenders are still collecting their paychecks from The Friedkin Group. However, to further drive home the point that they weren’t wanted, the pair have also been left off Roma's squad list for the Europa League Round of 32.
Yet, as good as the move seemed at the time, it’s now looking a bit risky for the Giallorossi. As Roma head to Portugal, it’ll be hoping that Roger Ibañez can overcome some muscle fatigue and make the starting XI because the only other natural center back fit enough to start is Gianluca Mancini. That’s because both Max Kumbulla and Chris Smalling remain on the shelf.
Other than the defensive absences, Fonseca will have a fit roster to choose from.
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Here are the players available for Thursday's return to Europa League action!
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One change we could see in this match is at goalkeeper, where Antonio Mirante could return between the sticks in a reversal of roles from what we saw during the group stages. It looks like Pau Lopez has established himself as the league starter, so Mirante could get the Europa League minutes.
With the aforementioned injuries in defense, if Ibañez is fit enough to start then it’ll be the same defense as Sunday with Bryan Cristante centering Mancini and Ibañez. If Ibañez isn’t ready to go then Fonseca may have to get creative with Spinazzola moving to the back three and Bruno Peres shifting out to left wing-back.
With Spinazzola’s position likely dependent on Ibañez, that will also dictate the wing-back pairing. If Ibañez goes from the opening whistle then I expect to see Spinazzola wide left and Perez wide right; giving Rick Karsdorp a day off.
In the center of the midfield, we could see Lorenzo Pellegrini slide back to a deeper position alongside Jordan Veretout. The motivation for this would be to make space for a Pedro return to the starting XI in the attacking midfield alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Rounding out the starting XI will be Edin Dzeko at striker.