Facing newly promoted sides is always tricky. On one hand, the match is an opportunity to go full throttle and really build your team's confidence in terms of scoring goals. On the other, you could opt to play it safe, rotate, and trust your backups to get the job done. With a massive clash against Juventus next week, Roma can ill afford to overlook their opponents tomorrow and risk dropping points.
It’s only been one match so far, but Cremonese has shown they don’t intend to be pushovers either - narrowly losing 3-2 to Fiorentina at the death last week despite playing with a man down for the entirety of the second half.
Roma’s last league match against Cremonese was way back in the 95/96 season, with the Giallorossi claiming all three points in a 3-0 win. It’s been quite some time since that match, but with a win already under their belts to start the season, you hope that Roma is playing with enough confidence to match that scoreline and continue their winning ways.
What To Watch For
Can Roma Contain David Okereke?
The Cremonese danger man is no stranger to tormenting the Giallorossi. After a season on loan with Venezia last season, the Nigerian has a new lease on his Serie A career, joining Cremonese over the summer. Okereke finished with seven goals in the league last season, scoring in both matches against Roma, including the winner in Venezia’s 3-2 upset in their first meeting. And if you have doubts whether Okereke’s form will continue into the season, the forward has already scored in both of Cremonese’s competitive matches this season.
Having said that, containing the former Venezia man will go a long way in laying the foundations for Roma to secure all three points in this one. You’d assume that Mourinho will continue with the Ibanez-Smalling-Mancini backline, and despite Okereke giving Roma’s defense fits last season, you’d imagine that trio will be playing with enough confidence to comfortably stymie his threat.
Who Will Play in the Midfield?
Although many anticipated Nemanja Matic to start against Salernitana last week, Mourinho opted to go with a double pivot of Lorenzo Pellegrini and Bryan Cristante. And while many may have raised their eyebrows at this pairing, Mourinho’s selection was validated, with Cristante scoring the game-winner.
Does Mourinho stick with the pairing that won against Salernitana? Does Mourinho plugin Matic to increase his fitness in advance of the Juve match?
The Special One opted to keep things coy in his pre-match presser, choosing to highlight that he could go with any number of pairings in the midfield, with the onus falling on the team to keep the structure and stay defensively sound regardless of who’s playing in the middle of the park. I’m inclined to think that Mourinho will ride with the pairing from last match, with any selection surprises to be used against Juventus next week. For now, continuing to build momentum is the name of the game, so I’d be surprised if we saw significant changes from last week's lineup.