It’s been a while, but Roma is regaining fitness just in the nick of time. With Atalanta coming to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday and the derby looming in just two weeks' time, José Mourinho will want all of his top guns available for those key fixtures. With Sérgio Oliveira returning to training this week and Nicolo Zaniolo avoiding nasal surgery, Mourinho will have everyone available aside from Leonardo Spinazzola.
With the return of all his regulars, it’s unlikely that we see any youngsters featuring from the start like we’ve seen in recent weeks with Felix Afena-Gyan and Nicola Zalewski. Plus, the return of so many veterans to fitness means that Mourinho will have some big decisions to make in a few key positions ahead of this one: center back, central midfield, and right back.
With the defense at full health, Roma is likely to stick to the 3-5-2 that Mourinho has employed in the majority of this season's matches; it's also the same formation that the Giallorossi rode to an emphatic 4-1 victory over La Dea in Bergamo in December. In that match, Roma controlled just about 30% possession but were clinical on the counter-attack; a strategy that we could see again on Saturday.
Roger Ibañez returned to fitness last week but hasn’t featured in about a month. However, despite the lack of match time, he’s slightly favored to start in the backline over Max Kumbulla. On the right-wing, despite his struggles in recent weeks, Rick Karsdorp will probably get the nod over Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Lastly, Mourinho's biggest decisions will likely come in midfield. Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are likely locks for two of the three starting spots, which leaves the last spot to either Oliveira, Jordan Veretout, or Bryan Cristante. With Oliveira just back from injury, he’s unlikely to start, so the choice is between Cristante and Veretout with the Italian likely having the edge over the Frenchman.
Roma (3-5-2): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Vina, Mkhitaryan, Cristante, Pellegrini, Karsdorp; Zaniolo, Abraham