It’s been an interesting few weeks Across the Romaverse, to say the least; mainly because we didn’t know how the Paulo Fonseca-Edin Dzeko drama would end. After the manager and captain had a disagreement following the Coppa Italia elimination at the hands of Spezia, it looked like Dzeko would be heading out the door. However, the transfer window has slammed shut and Dzeko remains a member of the club.
Now, with Dzeko here for the rest of the season, the duo will have to make peace for the benefit of all involved, especially the club. Just how quickly Fonseca thrusts Dzeko back into the starting XI remains to be seen, but this weekend’s match at the Allianz Arena could be a big indication of the role Dzeko will play going forward.
With the news of the Dzeko drama hopefully behind us, his return should give the roster a boost. Nevertheless, it wasn’t all good news this week from Trigoria as Chris Smalling was ruled out of Saturday’s match. Couple that with Lorenzo Pellegrini’s yellow card suspension and Roma will be missing some key players for the trip to the Allianz Stadium. In addition to Smalling and Pellegrini, Pedro and El Shaarawy will also miss out on this one—the former still injured and the latter working to match fitness.
One player who is back is goalkeeper Antonio Mirante. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly from Pau Lopez since Mirante’s injury, but Fonseca committed to sticking with the Spaniard for this one.
While Fonseca looks to have had a choice in goal, Smalling’s absence means there won’t be much to debate in defense. The young CB trio of Gianluca Mancini, Roger Ibañez, and Max Kumbulla will be tasked with dealing with the likes of Ronaldo, Chiesa, and Morata.
That defense will need help from the midfield and wingers when dealing with the vaunted Juve attack. That’s why this could be the match we a slight change to the formation. With so many absences in the attacking midfield, Fonseca will likely look to a midfield three with Jordan Veretout and Gonzalo Villar being joined by Bryan Cristante. Meanwhile, Cristante was confirmed as captain for tomorrow’s match with Pellegrini out.
By this point in the season, there should be no mystery as to who starts at the wing-back positions. Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp have been standing out all season and will have to be at their best yet again for the Giallorossi.
Fonseca further hinted at the move to more of a 3-5-2 for this one when addressing the attack. With Pellegrini suspended, Pedro injured, and new arrival Stephan El Shaarawy working to match fitness, Carles Perez is the only viable candidate left to flank Mkhitaryan.
“Clearly [with Pellegrini suspended] it’s a possibility we could play Mkhitaryan nearer the striker and tweak the system slightly.”
Perez has been underwhelming all season, so it’s more likely that Fonseca goes with the three central midfielders. That would avoid playing Perez in such a big match, while also shoring up the center of the pitch against the Bianconeri.
Considering the fallout of the recent Dzeko/Fonseca drama and his recent hot form, Borja Mayoral should lead the attack. However, one wonders that if there was ever a time to play Mayoral and Dzeko together, this would be the match to test it out if Roma needs a goal later in the match considering the absences in the attacking midfield.