On Sunday, Roma returned from the international break in style with a 3-1 victory over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico. In that match, the Giallorossi finally welcomed back captain Lorenzo Pellegrini after a prolonged absence. Meanwhile, oft-injured Paulo Dybala again demonstrated why his presence is vital as he played the main protagonist in the victory.
However, as nice as it was seeing those two on the pitch from the start, don’t expect to see it again on Thursday in Switzerland. Despite Roma a spot in the knockout rounds on the line, Mourinho confirmed that he won’t risk his attacking midfield duo from the start. The same can be said for Renato Sanches, who has finally returned from a second injury this season.
“How will I handle playing Pellegrini, Dybala, and Renato Sanches? All three won’t be starting nor playing together tomorrow. Obviously Renato has to be managed carefully. Meanwhile, Paulo came back from international duty with Argentina and immediately played 88 minutes.”
Along the same lines, Mourinho did indicate that there would be a few changes from Sunday’s winning XI and that some of the usual starters would play a role off the bench.
“I’ll make a few changes to the team tomorrow but I’ll be seeking a good response from the guys who come on during the game who aren’t used to starting from the bench. They’ll need to enter game with the right attitude and motivation.”
One place where there won’t be changes is in the defense, where Chris Smalling and Max Kumbulla remain out through injury. Mourinho also confirmed the starting place for Edoardo Bove in the midfield, where the Roma CT will rely on his tireless work rate yet again.
“Bove will have to run a double marathon and play all 90 minutes along with someone else.”
Aside from those comments, Mourinho gave no other indications as to who would start, so we’ll give it our best shot.
ROMA (3-5-2): Svilar; Ndicka, Llorente, Mancini; El Shaarawy, Cristante, Paredes, Bove, Karsdrop; Belotti, Lukaku.