Roma’s busy stretch continues as the Giallorossi travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the second leg of the Europa League Round of 16. Luckily for Paulo Fonseca, Roma took care of business in Rome during the first leg, so the Gialllorossi head into this one with a 3-0 lead. Yet, despite the seemingly comfortable lead, this match won’t be a walk in the park and the Giallorossi will want to avoid being on the wrong side of a historic comeback.
Thus, as important as it is for Fonseca to have his team as fresh as possible for Sunday’s vital match against Napoli, he can’t afford to take this one for granted. So, he’ll have to find a way to deal with numerous key absences to Jordan Veretout, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Chris Smalling, while still providing some rest for a few key players.
While some may want to see some youngsters make up the bulk of the Giallorossi’s formation, that’s unlikely considering Roma can’t afford to toss away a big lead and risk missing out on the quarterfinals. With that in mind, I would expect 4-5 changes from Sunday’s loss at the Tardini to Parma.
The players that most likely need a rest before Sunday’s match include Leonardo Spinazzola, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Gianluca Mancini. That trio has been heavily relied on this season, especially of late. I’d certainly expect Spinazzola to be replaced by Bruno Peres at the left-wing. Some publications are projecting Pellegrini in the attacking midfield, but the safe choice would be for Fonseca to start Carles Perez and Stephan El Shaarawy to give his captain a rest.
Meanwhile, most projections do have Mancini starting, which means the Italian may again be asked to lead the backline with Smalling out. I think it’d be wise for Fonseca to rest him.
Brian Cristante, Borja Mayoral, Amadou Diawara, and Rick Karsdorp will return to the starting XI after starting Sunday’s match from the bench. Those four and Perez should make for five changes from the side that fell in Emilia-Romagna.