As Romanisti, we’re very accustomed to seeing managers try and balance two competitions when European group stages kick off in the fall. José Mourinho managed this perfectly last year, capped off by Lorenzo Pellegrini lifting the newly minted Conference League trophy last season.
However, even one of the most experienced European managers will face a new challenge as Roma plays six Thursday night matches over a nine week span. And to make matters worse, Mourinho will be without six key contributors in Tammy Abraham, Gini Wijnaldum, Nico Zaniolo, Rick Karsdorp, Max Kumbulla, and Stephan El Shaarawy for today's match.
With that in mind, we can’t expect a ton of changes from the side that was routed 4-0 up in Udine on Sunday. However, rotation is likely is in goal. Last season, we saw Daniel Fuzato get just one start. Consequently, one of the offseason priorities was upgrading the back up keeper position by signing Mile Svilar on a free agent deal. Now, the youngster looks poised to make his first official start after being a part of the pre-match press conference with Mourinho.
In front of Svilar will be the regular center back trio of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling, and Roger Ibañez with Kumbulla out. A position where we should see some rotation is at Roma’s healthiest position: wing back. After a rough outing Sunday, Rick Karsdop will make way for Zeki Çelik and Nicola Zalewski will give Leo Spinazzola a night off.
In the central midfield we could see Mady Camara make his starting debut, but I’m not sure if Mourinho will make that call with just about a week of tactical work under the Guinean’s belt. Therefore, I think we could see Nemanja Matic and Bryan Cristante.
Up top, Andrea Belotti will spell Tammy Abraham who is a bit knocked up after falling on his shoulder against Udinese. He’ll be supported by Lorenzo Pellegrini and Paulo Dybala.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Svilar; Ibanez, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Matic, Cristante, Celik; Pellegrini, Dybala; Belotti