Prior to Roma’s match against Bologna at the Olimpico on Sunday, there was much debate on social media channels about whether or not José Mourinho should go with heavy squad rotation. After all, despite the importance of tomorrow’s Europa Conference League semi-final second leg against Leicester City, the Giallorossi still have work to do in the league to lock down a Europa League place. Many wondered if Roma could afford to prioritize the Conference League and risk missing out entirely on a Europa League spot by crashing out to Leicester and being jumped by some combination of Lazio, Fiorentina, and Atalanta in the league.
Mourinho did make a half dozen changes to his starting eleven from last Thursday’s first leg and the mostly rotated side managed only a scoreless draw against the Rossoblu. But as fate would have it, only Lazio managed (a controversial) three points to draw level with Roma in fifth, while the Viola lost and Atalanta rallied late to draw. So, in the end, the turnover shouldn’t break Roma’s EL hopes via the league route and it should mean a fairly rested squad for tomorrow’s second leg against Brendan Rodgers’ side at the Olimpico.
In the Bologna match, midfielder Bryan Cristante and forward Nicolo Zaniolo were the only non-defensive outfield players to play 90 minutes and are likely to start tomorrow, as are center backs Roger Ibañez and Gianluca Mancini and goalkeeper Rui Patricio, each of whom started Sunday's match as well. The remainder of the players expected to play against the Foxes did make appearances off the bench against Bologna, including Lorenzo Pellegrini, Tammy Abraham, Rick Karsdorp, and Nicolo Zalewski. However, none played for more than a half-hour.
There will only be one change in the lineup that managed a vital 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium last week—a forced change. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss out on this one after suffering a muscle strain in the first leg. His starting spot will likely be taken by Sérgio Oliveira, who will be fresh after being suspended on the weekend. The Portuguese veteran will be favored over Frenchman Jordan Veretout to replace Mkhitaryan.
Other than that expect a replica to last week’s XI as Roma looks to advance to its first European final since 1984.
ROMA (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Ibanez, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Cristante, Oliveira, Karsdrop; Pellegrini; Zaniolo, Abraham