The monkey is finally off Roma’s back after a big win at the San Siro against Inter. However, the Giallorossi can’t rest on their laurels for very long. That’s because their biggest rival to win Europa League Group C, Real Betis, comes to the Olimpico tomorrow.
And while Roma recouped some of its injured players over the international break, it did have some injury scares in the Inter match. Both Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini came off during the match. Luckily, neither situation looked serious, and Mourinho spoke on the condition of both players in his pre-match presser today.
“Dybala is okay, he’s in good shape and he will play tomorrow.
“With Lorenzo Pellegrini, we’ll have to see how he is. A lot will depend on what he says. There’s a great level of trust there, so alongside what the medical staff think it will also be about what he says about his fitness and condition.”
With that, it’s a mixed bag of news for two of Roma’s key men. The fact that Pellegrini is a wait-and-see could indicate that, if he’s involved at all, he may come off the bench. Paulo Dybala, meanwhile, looks like a lock to start.
Following this match, Roma hosts 13th place Lecce at the Olimpico on Sunday, so expect minimal turnover against Real Betis, who not only lead Europa League Group C, but sit fourth in La Liga. This Betis side is a tough club, so it’s more likely Mourinho saves the majority of his rotation for Sunday against Lecce.
One new face who we could see come into the starting XI is Andrea Belotti. The Italian striker was a part of the pre-match presser with his manager, which is usually an indication of a start in these European matches.
Whether Belotti plays as a lone striker or in tandem with Tammy Abraham, who didn't start against Inter Milan, could be an interesting wrinkle tomorrow. Mourinho spoke about that duo being able to play together in his presser.
“Good players can always play together. It’s not a problem, that’s never an issue for any coach. Tammy and Belotti are both good players. It’s about finding the right setup and the right moment.”
Could this be the right moment?
With Pellegrini’s absence and Dybala possibly playing on limited minutes after the cramps on Sunday, we could see a Belotti-Abraham duo, though not necessarily from the opening whistle.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Matic, Cristante, Zalewski; Dybala, Zaniolo; Belotti.