Roma returns to action just three days after a dramatic win in Amsterdam against Ajax. Romanisti will hope that Roger Ibañez’s late goal that completed the comeback will be the spark to turn around a season that's gone dreadfully off course in the last six weeks. The Giallorossi’s now faint top four hopes rely on nothing less than a win tomorrow against Bologna, but at the same time Fonseca must keep an eye on Thursday’s second leg against Ajax at the Olimpico.
Fonseca still remains without a number of his most important players for this match, including Leonardo Spinazzola, who went down on Thursday with a leg injury. He joins a list that already includes Chris Smalling, Max Kumbulla, and Stephan El Shaarawy. Additionally, Bryan Cristante is suspended for this one.
However, Fonseca does get to welcome back Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the fold; another key addition after the return of Jordan Veretout last weekend. Fonseca spoke on that duo and Smalling in his presser.
“I think it will be difficult to have Smalling for Ajax. Mkhitaryan trained with the team today. He only did one training session, he won’t play from the start tomorrow. Veretout played against Ajax, we’ll see tomorrow.”
The opening line on Smalling is obviously the most concerning as Roma was hoping to have its starting center back return sooner rather than later. However, the comments on Mkhitaryan and Veretout are about as expected. The goal is probably to have both come off the bench tomorrow and be ready from the opening whistle next week.
With that in mind, there likely won’t be much mystery in the Roma starting XI. Thursday’s man of the match, Pau Lopez, will start in goal. In front of him will be a back three that features Gianluca Mancini and Ibañez. Joining them will likely be Federico Fazio as Roma is without Smalling, Cristante, Kumbulla, and Spinazzola.
Moving into the midfield, I expect to see Gonzalo Villar paired with Amadou Diawara to ensure that the recently healed Veretout isn’t overworked. On the wings it’s likely we see Rick Karsdorp on the right and Bruno Peres on the left with Spinazzola out. It’s possible that Riccardo Calafiori could start on the left but with Peres suspended on Thursday it’s likely he plays in this one.
Moving into the attack, it’ll probably be Borja Mayoral leading the line with Edin Dzeko being rested for Thursday. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Carles Perez are the likely starters behind the Spaniard.