After almost two months without an official match, Roma finally returns to action on Wednesday. And while we all hope that the time off has done Mourinho and the squad some good, we won’t know for sure until the Giallorossi actually take the pitch against Bologna at the Olimpico. Will the ills of the fall be remedied, or will the same issues rear their ugly heads again? We’ll know in less than 24 hours.
The late autumn goalscoring swoon should be remedied by the return of newly crowned World Cup champion Paulo Dybala. Dybala regained fitness prior to the World Cup break and is now back ahead of what should be a grueling run of matches in January. The Argentine is slated to start in support of the attacking couple formed by Tammy Abraham and Nicoló Zaniolo.
With Dybala, Abraham, and Zaniolo all expected to start in attack, Lorenzo Pellegrini will take up more of a central midfield role for this match. Who partners him is one of the questions heading into this match. Mourinho will have to decide between Bryan Cristante and Nemanja Matic. Most publications around the peninsula seem to be giving Cristante the slight edge, but don’t be surprised if Matic starts to take some of the defensive duties off Roma’s captain.
While there has been some chatter about Mourinho switching to a back four in the new year, it’s more likely to happen when Gini Wijnaldum returns to match fitness. So, expect the regular back three of Mancini, Smalling, and Ibañez supported by wingbacks Zeki Celik and Nicola Zalewski or Leonardo Spinazzola.
ROMA (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Ibañez, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Cristante, Pellegrini, Celik; Dybala; Zaniolo, Abraham