Just last weekend we were lauding Roma’s containment of Atalanta’s normally high-flying offense. A big reason for that was Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marash Kumbulla playing key roles in Roma’s defensive structure against the Bergamo side. However, in that match, Kumbulla was carded and Mkhi received a red card, making both unavailable this weekend through suspension.
Besides Leonardo Spinazzola, who remains out through injury, they are the only missing Giallorossi for today's match because youngster Nicola Zalewski has recovered from an ankle injury, giving José Mourinho a variety of players at his disposal.
And after a lackluster performance from a turned-over line-up against Vitesse in Holland in the Conference League on Thursday, don’t expect many changes from last weekend’s win over Atalanta. That is, of course, outside of replacing the two suspended players.
One other thing to keep an eye on is the fact that both Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo are one booking away from suspension with the derby looming next weekend. With Pellegrini already missing out on the first match against Lazio because of suspension, Mourinho will have to manage those two carefully given their importance against Roma’s city rivals next weekend. Both should still start, but if Roma jumps out to a lead, a quick hook may be in order.
The changes for Kumbulla and Mkhitaryan will be fairly straightforward. The Albanian will be replaced by Roger Ibañez who returned to the starting line-up against Vitesse. Meanwhile, Mkhitaryan will be replaced by Sergio Oliveira who scored the match-winner before being sent off against the Dutch side. The only other question mark is whether Zalewski will be given a start after being hobbled last weekend. Reports indicate he should be, but iff he doesn’t then keep an eye on Stephan El Shaarawy or Matias Viña to fill out the starting XI.
ROMA (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Ibañez, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Cristante, Oliveira, Karsdorp; Pellegrini; Zaniolo, Abraham