There’s no denying that the trip to Milan this week was a complete and utter disaster for the Giallorossi—one that Jose Mourinho & Co will want to put behind themselves quickly. However, thanks to the red cards issued to Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini that won’t be so easy as the after-effects of the loss to AC Milan will reverberate into Sunday’s match at home against Juventus.
Due to those two players being suspended, Mourinho will be forced to make two changes on the right side of his current 3-5-2 formation against the Bianconeri. And we will likely see one more change to the midfield that was overrun by a Rossoneri side without Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer.
Besides Mancini and Karsdorp, Leo Spinazzola remains out through injury, while Daniel Fuzato remains in COVID protocol. Additionally, Ebrima Darboe and Amadou Diawara are off on international duty at the African Cup of Nations.
With Mancini out, Max Kumbulla will undoubtedly move into the starting eleven as part of the back three. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kumbulla start on the left where Federico Bernardeschi will likely be the primary threat coming down that wing. That would allow Roger Ibañez to shift to the right center-back position to deal with the threat of Federico Chiesa; Ibañez is also pacier than Kumbulla, so he can offer support to whoever replaces Karsdorp.
Who replaces Rick Karsdrop is the bigger question. With Bryan Reynolds not having seen the pitch in forever, it comes down to Stephan El Shaarawy or newly signed Ainsely Maitland-Niles. Throwing the Englishman into a match of this magnitude after being officially announced barely 24 hours prior is risky, but he is the more natural defender of the two players. He also possesses the pace to run with Chiesa down the wing. So, Mourinho will have to weigh those attributes against the experience of El Shaarawy, who played left wing-back earlier in the season.
The last change from Thursday’s loss should come in the form of Bryan Cristante. After the midfield trio of Jordan Veretout, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Lorenzo Pellegrini performed poorly against Milan, it seems unlikely Mourinho would try that again against Juve. Look for Cristante to replace Mkhitaryan in all likelihood.
Roma (3-5-2): Patricio; Kumbulla, Smalling, Ibañez; Viña, Pellegrini, Cristante, Veretout, Maitland-Niles; Zaniolo, Abraham