Genoa in Serie B just doesn’t feel right. For almost as long I’ve been a Romanista, Roma has always had the oldest club in Italy on its schedule twice a year. Alas, after last year’s poor season, the Grifoni are in Italy’s second division and it appeared that Roma wouldn’t be squaring off against against the Rossoblú for at least the 2022-2023 season.
However, now that Genoa has reached the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia, Roma will get to play one of Serie A’s traditional sides afterall. After today's match against Genoa, not to mention the hard-fought draw on Sunday at the San Siro, José Mourinho will have to pick and choose his line-up carefully with Fiorentina coming to the Olimpico in just 72 hours.
And while many fans would like to see much of the starting lineup rotated a Serie B side, there’s no guarantees this match will be easy. Just ask Inter Milan how difficult playing against a second division can be in the Coppa. Plus, we all remember Spezia. Mourinho will want to avoid an embarrassing defeat or even a difficult match that goes the full 120 minutes.
With that in mind, expect Mourinho to mix and match the line-up, trying not to lose too much cohesion. Chris Smalling and Paulo Dybala, who has had injury concerns this season, are the two players most likely to be rested today.
With that in mind, expect Max Kumbulla to get this match as a warm up for Sunday when he’ll replace the suspended Roger Ibañez. Additionally, youngster Benjamin Tahirovic, whos has drawn high praise from Mourinho, will likely slot into the midfield alongside Nemanja Matic. This will allow Lorenzo Pellegrini to push higher behind the striker.
Some other players that could get a start are Andrea Belotti, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Leonardo Spinazzola. In Belotti’s case, it’ll likely depend on whether Mourinho wants to reward Tammy Abraham for his late goal in Milan with a start.
Roma (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Kumbulla, Ibañez; El Shaarawy, Tahirovic, Matic, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Zaniolo; Belotti.