Lazio hosts Roma in the first edition of the Derby della Capitale featuring José Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri on the benches of the two clubs. Without a doubt it’s the most anticipated match of Mourinho’s brief tenure to this point. And if there’s one thing we’ve seen with Mourinho so far it’s that he likes to play his best XI as often as possible. That best XI clearly includes captain Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been Roma’s best player in the early part of this season.
However, thanks to a very soft second yellow card in the dying moments of Roma’s midweek victory over Udinese, Roma will be without its captain. Thus, the biggest question heading into this one revolves around how the Roma CT will compensate for the absence of his captain.
It’s something we don’t have much of an answer to based on prior matches since Pellegrini has played almost every minute this season so far while only Rui Patricio and Gianluca Mancini—who have yet to be subbed off—have played more.
Mourinho addressed the Pellegrini without tipping his hand in the pre-match presser:
“We only have one Pellegrini. I don’t want to talk about that. For me it’s not easy to talk about Pellegrini right now. I could even say that tomorrow’s game really began in the last minute of the Udinese game: because having Pellegrini is one thing for us, and being without him is another.
“You have touched on different things. He’s important offensively, defensively, in pressing. We can talk purely about football, like that, but we can also talk about leadership, about influence, about communication – about being a good captain. But Pellegrini won’t play tomorrow.
“I think that your question is also to get an idea of who might play in his place, to find out how we are going to try and find the right solution for his absence. But I won’t tell you that. I will be very honest and just say ‘No comment’, I won’t tell you how we will play or which players could be involved.”
Other than Pellegrini, the only player that risks missing out is Matías Viña who has missed Roma’s last three matches. Mourinho ended his presser with a little humor by addressing Viña.
“And, another thing, you guys forgot to ask the key question: ‘Will Matias Vina be there tomorrow?’ I think he will, I think he will.”
Even with Viña being available, you’d have to think it’s unlikely he starts the match. Plus, Riccardo Calafiori seemed to grow in confidence last match. I expect him to start with Viña making a second half appearance. Meanwhile, the rest of the backline should remain consistent with Rick Karsdorp, Roger Ibañez, and tomorrow’s likely captain Mancini. Rui Patricio will of course be in goal.
Meanwhile, the central midfield duo of Jordan Veretout and Bryan Cristante will remain unchanged. Tammy Abraham, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will also all start again. The difference from the midweek set-up is that Mkhi is the likely candidate to slide inside and play Pellegrini’s #10 role. Taking Pellegrini’s place in the XI should be Stephan El Shaarawy or Carles Pérez. I’d tip SES as the favorite to go from the opening whistle.