The matches continue to come fast and furious for Roma in this hectic month of March. With the Giallorossi playing midweek matches for four straight weeks, there isn’t much rest for the weary. That leaves Paulo Fonseca in the precarious position of trying to grind out results while still finding some much-needed rest for his top players. Throw in a few injuries to key players and that task has become even more tricky.
With Roma playing just three days ago against Shakhtar at the Olimpico and a trip to Ukraine looming, Fonseca will likely find rest for some players against 19th place Parma. In his pre-match presser, he indicated that there could be as many as five changes:
“We have tired players, many are playing almost always and for this we have to change. We need to have fresher players tomorrow. I’m not saying that I want to change the whole team, but we need to rotate some players, mainly to rest some players who have played a lot. There will be three, four or five changes tomorrow “
Where those changes will be made remains to be seen, but we know that Fonseca will be forced to do without Jordan Veretout, Chris Smalling, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for this one.
Fonseca didn’t say much about Mkhi other than he wouldn’t play but did speak more at length about the Englishman.
“Smalling against Genoa had a great game, then I didn’t play him against Shakhtar because he had an annoyance and I thought I would play him against Parma. The truth is that Smalling continues to have this annoyance and I think it is better not to risk having him play tomorrow, because you risk losing him for a long time. The situation is very clear: we have to evaluate his situation day by day, understand how he feels and then decide according to the matches. “
With Mkhitaryan out, one of those changes will have to come in the attacking midfield where the Armenian has started almost every match for the Giallorossi. In all likelihood, the hope will be to have him back next weekend for the big match against Napoli at the Olimpico. In one of those two spots, Fonseca did confirm that Pedro would start. However, he wouldn’t confirm Stephan El Shaarawy starting alongside the Spaniard.
“We’ll see tomorrow. Stephan entered well on Thursday, he scored an important goal, he is much better than in previous games, with more confidence. Compared to the others, he is a different player, which is why we brought him here. But I must say: let El Shaarawy work. He has a lot of pressure on him, everyone thinks that he has to solve Roma’s problems now, let’s let him work normally, let’s allow him to integrate well into the team. With Stephan’s quality things will happen normally, we don’t have to put too much pressure on a player who has arrived now and hasn’t played much in the last year. This tranquility will be important to him. “
Another of the changes will likely come at wingback where Bruno Peres should spell either Leonardo Spinazzola or Rick Karsdorp. The other would likely be spelled in Ukraine to have both as fresh as possible against Napoli. I’ll tip Spina to be rested in this one and Karsdorp against Shakhtar.
A third change could likely come at striker where Fonseca confirmed that Dzeko is fit, even though he wouldn’t confirm the Bosnian as a starter. Despite his coyness on El Shaarawy and Dzeko, I expect both to start.
With Roger Ibañez back from injury, the Brazilian should start this one. The biggest question would be who he replaces. With Smalling out, I think Fonseca sticks with Cristante. I also think that Mancini is more likely to be rested in Ukraine, so I’ll tip Ibañez to replace Kumbulla.
Lastly, we come to the midfield where Roma is still without Veretout. Amadou Diawara could likely use a rest after starting the last three matches following a long spell without much game time. Therefore, I think Fonseca slides Lorenzo Pellegrini deeper into the midfield alongside Gonzalo Villar. Pellegrini’s versatility was something Fonseca praised in his presser.
“A little bit of everything. Lorenzo is a very important player for us, he can play different roles, he is an intelligent player and he has grown. If the team is better, it is physiological that the individual is also better, it is a collective process, not an individual one. Victories bring confidence. Being a captain brings confidence.”