Well. We spoke too soon. When it came to Roma’s health heading into Old Trafford we were optimistic considering it was the healthiest the Giallorossi had been all season and just in time for the biggest match in years.
Then the events of Thursday played out. Jordan Veretout went down in the first five minutes of the match with a hamstring issue. He was followed off the pitch by Pau Lopez with a shoulder injury and Leonardo Spinazzola with his own hamstring issue just before halftime. And just like that Roma enter Sunday's match against Sampdoria again looking like the walking wounded.
Despite the muscle injuries incurred by the recently recovered Veretout and Spinazzola, Fonseca insisted there was no reason to think they weren’t ready to go.
“Something went wrong, clearly. I can talk about Spinazzola and Veretout, who both played in the game on Thursday. Both of them trained during the week, then they both played against Cagliari - all the signs were positive. In this part of the season we need those players. Given all the signs were positive, there was no sense in deciding it was too risky to play them in Manchester. We had no indications to make us think that.”
For this one, Roma will be without those three players. In addition, Pedro, Stephan El Shaarawy, Riccardo Calafiori, and Nicoló Zaniolo all remain on the sidelines. Throw in the fatigue of the players who played 90 minutes in Manchester and turnover should be the name of the game this weekend.
Fonseca didn’t field too many questions about his line-up for tomorrow in the pre-match press conference. However, there was one about the goalkeeper situation and the possibility of Daniel Fuzato playing, which Fonseca admitted is a possibility given the injury to Lopez and the compact schedule.
I think Antonio Mirante will likely start in Genoa on Sunday, as he could use some confidence ahead of Thursday’s second leg. So, I’ll tip him to start with Fuzato more likely to get a look against Crotone next weekend.
In front of Mirante, we are likely to see a completely turned over back three. After being suspended in England, Gianluca Mancini returns to the starting XI, along with Max Kumbulla who recently returned from injury but has yet to play. Joining them will likely be Federico Fazio, as Roma gears up for another two-match week.
Moving into the midfield, I expect Amadou Diawara to be rested. So this could be the match where Bryan Cristante returns to his natural midfield position alongside Gonzalo Villar. They will be flanked by Bruno Peres and one of Davide Santon or Bryan Reynolds. I’ll tip Reynolds this time around.
In the attack, Borja Mayoral will lead the line and Carles Perez will also get a start. However, due to the injuries to Pedro and SES, one of Pellegrini and Mkhitaryan will have to start again. I’d tip Roma’s captain with the veteran getting a much-needed rest.