If there’s one thing that has been consistent thus far about Mourinho’s Roma—aside from the winning—it’s been predictable line-ups. Through the first five competitive matches of the season, Mourinho has used just 13 different starters. However, with the busy schedule that looms in the next few weeks, it’ll be vital that Mourinho manages many of his players' minutes.
And that management will likely begin with Thursday’s Conference League match against CSKA Sofia where the quality of the opponent presents a good opportunity to rest some key men. And while he did promise turnover for this one, the Special One is wary of what turnover could do to the structure of his team.
“I am sure a question will arrive asking whether I will make changes to the team tomorrow – clearly I will. We will not pick the same team as last weekend. I will make a few changes, but the key thing is we keep the structure in place. Because we need to get a good result. It’s a competition that, step-by-step, we want to do something in. And step-by-step means getting to the end of this group stage and qualifying for the knockout rounds. So if we can start by picking up three points at home, then all the better.”
Who exactly will be changed wasn’t made all that clear by Mourinho. However, one change that was confirmed by the CT was Riccardo Calafiori making his first start in place of Matías Viña who’s had a busy couple of weeks on international duty.
“People already know so I can say it: tomorrow Matias Vina won’t play, Riccardo Calafiori will. That sort of change is normal. Right now we are focusing on tomorrow’s game, not on Sunday.”
One other confirmed starter for this one was Sunday’s hero Stephan El Shaarawy.
“I told him [El Shaarawy] then that he would start the game against CSKA. I told him then that he is a starter for me, even if he’s been on the bench so far.”
Besides changing his left-back and left-winger, Mourinho will also likely change one of his center-backs.
If you are asking me if I will change both centre-backs tomorrow, then the answer is no. I won’t be changing both.”
This would allow him to give either Roger Ibanez or Gianluca Mancini a breather. Chris Smalling seems the more likely candidate to get a start than Max Kumbulla.
Other players that are likely to get a start are Carles Pérez and Eldor Shomurodov. If those three get the start then Nicolo Zaniolo and Tammy Abraham would be the candidates to start the match on the bench.