In Roma’s first game back from the extended World Cup break on Wednesday, José Mourinho surprised everyone when teenager Benjamin Tahirovic got his first career start for the Giallorossi. Tahirovic had drawn plenty of praise from his manager before the Bologna match, but nobody saw his first start in the cards quite yet. And while Tahirovic is said to be at the center of Mourinho’s project moving forward, it would be even more surprising to see him starting at the San Siro on Sunday.
In this match, it’s much more likely that Mourinho trusts his more experienced players in the hostile environment of the San Siro. And with everyone except Gini Wijnaldum anticipated to be ready for this one, Mourinho will have some options around the pitch.
With Paulo Dybala and Nicolo Zaniolo escaping serious injury against Bologna, both are expected to start again in attack. However, this time around, Tammy Abraham is projected to start in front of them, with Lorenzo Pellegrini dropping into a central midfield role. Who plays alongside Pellegrini is one of the positions in question.
Currently, Bryan Cristante looks to have a slight edge over Nemanja Matic. However, Matic starting over Cristante or even Zaniolo can’t be ruled out to try and strengthen the center of the park defensively.
The other place where there seems to be a question about who will start is left wing-back. Gazzetta dello Sport currently gives Nicola Zalewski a slight edge over Leonardo Spinazzola. Nevertheless, Mourinho could tip the veteran Italian in such a big match.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Ibañez, Smalling, Mancini; Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Cristante, Celik; Zaniolo, Dybala; Abraham