Prior to Thursday’s Europa League match against Braga, we discussed how leaving Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus off the UEFA roster could be an issue given the injuries sustained by Chris Smalling and Max Kumbulla. That left Roma with just Roger Ibañez and Gianluca Mancini as the only natural center-backs remaining on the roster. But, with Bryan Cristante’s transition into a sort of libero this season, it seemed the Giallorossi would be covered.
Then Braga happened. Cristante lasted a whole seven minutes before leaving with an injury, while Ibañez also exited injured in the second half. Luckily for Roma, Leonardo Spinazzola slotted seamlessly into the three-man backline, eventually joined there by Rick Karsdorp and the Giallorossi managed to keep a clean sheet.
Unfortunately for Roma none of the four injured players will be back for Roma on Sunday in Benevento. Also out injured are Riccardo Calafiori and Davide Santon—two players will small roles but defenders nonetheless. Fonseca commented on the status of some of his injured defenders.
“Smalling and Kumbulla are both progressing, especially Marash. We’ll see how they are next week.”
With all those absences, Paulo Fonseca was forced to recall both Fazio and Juan Jesus for this one.
Given the dire straits in defense, Fonseca was asked if he could change formations for this one. To which he didn’t commit either way, which leaves these probable formations difficult to predict.
Fonseca: “I’m looking at all my options now - including returning to four at the back. We’ll see tomorrow.”
With that in mind, we’ll approach this one a little differently and give an option for both a three-man and four-man back lines.
Formation Not Withstanding
No matter which formation Fonseca goes with we will see Pau Lopez in goal. Additionally, the attacking midfield of Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be all but a certainty. Meanwhile, Fonseca wouldn’t commit to Edin Dzeko or Borja Mayoral to start at striker.
I’m going to lean toward Mayoral with Dzeko likely starting Thursday. So, with those 4 positions set, let’s take a look at the variation between a four-man backline and three-man backline with the personnel Roma has available.
Sticking with the Back-Three
If Fonseca sticks with the three-man backline, I’d expect Spinazzola again to slot into the left side of the back three. I wouldn’t expect Fonseca to play both Fazio and Juan Jesus, so I’d tip Fazio for the center and Mancini to play his usual RCB position.
Spinazzola slipping into the back three means that Bruno Peres would start at left wing-back with Rick Karsdorp manning his usual right wing-back position. Meanwhile, the center of the midfield should be composed of Jordan Veretout and Gonzalo Villar.
Shifting Back to a Back-Four
If Fonseca does shift to the four, then I’d expect the center back pairing to be Mancini and Fazio. That would allow Spinazzola to play left-back and Karsdorp to play right back.
If Fonseca does in fact change the formation then I’d expect Amadou Diawara to join Villar and Veretout in the central midfield. Fonseca confirmed that Diawara is ready to play two matches in a row. Having Diawara join the midfield would allow him to play a deeper, more defensive role, so Roma wouldn’t have to change much tactically from the way they’ve been playing.
Which Probable Formation should Fonseca use against Benevento?
This poll is closed
Stick with the back-three
Shift to a four-man defense