Roma’s busy month of March concludes today with perhaps the Giallorossi’s most critical match. After losing at Parma last weekend, Paulo Fonseca finds his side in a must-win situation against fellow Champions League contender Napoli.
However, Roma will have more than just the Partenopei to overcome in this one. With Roma playing in Ukraine just 72 hours ago, fatigue could be an issue against a rested Napoli side. Meanwhile, Fonseca will have to cobble together his starting XI without three surefire starters: Chris Smalling, Jordan Veretout, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
That’s something Fonseca wasn’t dwelling on during his pre-match press conference.
“As usual, I can’t think about the players I don’t have available to me – I can only think about those who are available and, after that, about making sure those other players are back as soon as they can be. I think those players will be available again after the international break.”
With Smalling still out, it will be Bryan Cristante who will center the back three. And it’s his willingness to do what is needed for the team that was complimented by his manager.
“Cristante is playing really well as a central defender and has also played in a few other roles – as have other players when we’ve needed them to. That is the attitude that we want to see from the players.”
Cristante will center Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez after those two split Thursday’s match in Ukraine. Behind that trio will be the rejuvenated Pau Lopez.
Moving into the midfield, we should see the Amadou Diawara and Gonzalo Villar pairing. Flanking them on the wings will be Rick Karsdorp and Leonardo Spinazzola. Fonseca gave those two the last 30 minutes off on Thursday to try and have them somewhat rested.
Finally, in the attack, we should see the freshest combination possible given the circumstances. It looks like Edin Dzeko will lead the line after being given Thursday off. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy will play in support of the Big Bosnian in Mkhitaryan’s absence after having limited roles against Shakhtar.