Earlier in the season, Tiago Pinto was lauded for transforming the right-back position from a perennial position of weakness to one of strength with the arrival of Zeki Celik. Adding Celik to Rick Karsdorp—coming off his best season in Giallorosso—meant that Mourinho had two legit options to rotate. That was until Karsdorp needed meniscus surgery a few weeks ago, and Celik injured his knee when Gianluca Mancini got his teammate rather than the opponent on Thursday with an attempted tackle.
That injury means Mourinho will be without both of his right-backs for at least the next month. With the absences, Matías Viña’s presence could prove to be more important than expected to provide some fresh legs during a busy stretch. However, the most likely solution that we’ll see most matches is Leo Spinazzola starting on the left and Nicola Zalewski starting on the right.
Besides missing Karsdorp and Celik, Lorenzo Pellegrini is likely absent tomorrow after sitting out Thursday’s loss to Real Betis. With Pellegrini out, the major publications on the peninsula are again projecting the Cristante-Matic double pivot. If this is indeed the case, it makes one wonder what Mady Camara needs to do to get a start.
One place where we could see a change is at center back, where Chris Smalling could be rested ahead of the rematch with Betis in Seville. That would mean a start for Max Kumbulla. Tammy Abraham is said to be favored over Andrea Belotti to start at the striker position, but it is possible the Italian gets the start.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Ibañez, Kumbulla, Mancini; Spinazzola, Cristante, Matic, Zalewski; Dybala, Zaniolo; Abraham