“Nine are out in total.”
That’s the latest update from Jose Mourinho in his pre-match presser. The Roma CT will have a thin bench for this one between injuries (Spinazzola, El Shaarawy, Ibañez, and possibly Zaniolo), suspension (Mancini), and now Covid (Mkhitaryan, Shomorudov, Perez, and one more). That’s a heavy blow as Mourinho fills out his lineup card in a match that is essentially a must-win after back-to-back matches ending in draws.
There is some hope that Zaniolo will at least make the substitutes bench, as Mourinho hasn’t officially ruled him out.
“No he isn’t. You guys seem to know more than me! We have training today at 5pm and then the game tomorrow is at 6pm – so there is time to wait and see how things are. We will see tomorrow morning.”
That would be welcome news as the bench will likely be composed mostly of Primavera players.
“Nine players missing is a lot; any side would be in trouble in those circumstances and we are no different in that regard. I won’t even be able to put out a full substitutes’ bench. I am sorry but I will also have to disrupt the Primavera side, who will play against AC Milan tomorrow, in order to put many of them on the bench with us.
With both Ibanez and Mancini out, it’s likely that the Giallorossi will revert to a four-man backline for this match after playing with a three-man backline in recent months. That means Max Kumbulla will have a big opportunity to impress alongside Chris Smalling. But, slowing down a dangerous Verona attack will be no small feat, given its recent form and the 3-2 victory over Roma earlier in the season.
When playing a four-man backline, Mourinho generally plays a 4-2-3-1. However, with limited wing options and the fact that Roma has been playing a two-striker look recently, I think a 4-3-1-2 would make more sense. So, that’s the formation, I’ll throw out there. We’ll see if Mourinho feels the same way.
ROMA (4-3-1-2): Rui Patricio; Vina, Kumbulla, Smalling, Maitland-Niles; Oliveira, Cristante, Veretout; Pellegrini; Abraham, Felix