After suffering its first defeat of the season last weekend at the hands of Hellas Verona, José Mourinho will now have to manage his squad on short rest in one of the busiest parts of the campaign—and all while knowing the always critical Derby della Capitale is only three days down the road. Luckily for Mourinho, Roma remains in fairly good health overall.
Leonardo Spinazzola resumed individual training last week on his road back from a torn Achilles tendon. Meanwhile, the only other current injury absence is his stand-in Matías Viña. So, with two injuries at left-back, Mourinho will again turn to 19-year-old Riccardo Calafiori at the position. The manager spoke at length about Calafiori during his pre-match presser.
“Vina won’t play tomorrow. But Calafiori is a valid option. But, he’s valid for a 19-year-old, who hasn’t played many games in Serie A yet. He’s a valid option for us as a club. But if you ask the same question to four or five teams in Serie A who are stronger than us then perhaps they won’t say the same, they will say they have two players with more experience than that for the position. But for us he’s an option.
“Against Verona he was a bit timid, but overall it was a balanced performance I thought. When we talk about struggling a bit defensively, I would also say that I always expect my full-backs to have a bit more confidence to go out and play. And we are moving in that direction. He’s a 19-year-old, with talent, but without much experience. He naturally will need time to become a fully-formed player.”
Central midfield, much like full-back, has come into question several times this season. In terms of sheer numbers, Roma has quite a few options, but based on Mourinho’s comments about Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout, he clearly doesn’t feel like the reserves are quite up to snuff.
“There are teams that can think in that way. For us it is a bit tougher. In a few positions it is easier, because there are a number of different players with the same sort of level of quality, experience, workrate, rhythm – but there are others for us where it is a bit harder to have this sort of rotation. I don’t usually say who is going to play, but tomorrow both Cristante and Veretout will start.”
Other than that, Mou didn’t talk about any specific players' roles for tomorrow’s match against Udinese. However, I wouldn’t expect much change from Sunday’s loss at the Bentigodi.
In fact, I’m only expecting one with Henrikh Mkhitaryan returning the left-winger role in place of Eldor Shomurodov. With Roma looking to rebound from a disappointing defeat, Mourinho should turn to his best available XI, despite some Romanisti probably hoping for some respite for heavily used players prior to the derby.