The Conference League is back and depending on how you view the competition it could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. If you’re completely against playing in a third-tier competition in Eastern Europe on a Thursday evening then you probably are cringing reading this. On the other hand, if you want to see some of Roma’s usual bench players get some burn then this one is for you.
After a defeat at the hands of Lazio on Sunday and with a quick turnaround with Empoli coming up, even Mourinho, who hasn’t turned over the squad much, will likely be forced to make some changes in this one. Some of it will be compulsory, as both Jordan Veretout and Rick Karsdorp didn't travel with the team to get some rest. Other than those two, Mourinho will have the rest of his team available but there will likely be more than just those two changes.
And Mourinho, who didn’t comment on specific players, made it clear that he doesn’t see his roster as a first and second team.
“To change a few things is one thing, to talk about a ‘second team’ is another. For us the concept of a ‘second team’ doesn’t exist, and in saying that I will change a lot of things. Obviously we need to give a few players a rest and give an opportunity to a few others who haven’t had much of a go so far. But we have come here with a strong group and the aim is to win the game.”
With Karsdorp out it’ll be interesting to see if Bryan Reynolds gets a run-out. However, based on the fact that Reynolds has had trouble making the bench, it’ll likely be Roger Ibañez in a makeshift right back. That’ll leave at least one center-back position open and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mancini rested after he’s played every minute thus far. So, we could see Max Kumbulla and Chris Smalling in the center of defense. Meanwhile, Riccardo Calafiori should get the nod at left-back.
There have been some calls from Romanisti to give Daniel Fuzato a look in this one, but it seems unlikely that Mourinho goes away from Rui Patricio in a tricky road match. In the midfield, we know Veretout will be out and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cristante start from the bench. That would mean a likely double pivot of Amadou Diawara and Gonzalo Villar. However, as Jimmy pointed out in our match preview, keep an eye out for Edoardo Bove, who could be an option.
In the attack, it’s likely that Eldor Shomurodov starts at striker after he was part of today’s press conference. In support, Lorenzo Pellegrini will start at trequartista after missing out on the derby through suspension this weekend. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nicoló Zaniolo could also be in line for a rest, which would likely mean Carles Pérez and Stephan El Shaarawy, unless Mourinho opts for two strikers with Borja Mayoral joining Shomurodov since he will have three natural center backs in the defense.