The Giallorossi are desperate for a win as they enter the third leg of the six-match gauntlet that could define their season. After dropping points to Fiorentina and Bologna over the last two weeks, Roma has fallen from fourth to eighth in the table. It’s not an enviable position considering the Giallorossi welcome defending champions Napoli this weekend before traveling to the Allianz Stadium next weekend to face Juventus.
To complicate matters even more, José Mourinho will still be without some key players, including attacking star Paulo Dybala. Mourinho was asked about the status of some of his injured players during his prematch press conference and had this to say.
“No, Kumbulla won’t even be on the bench. Not yet. He’s doing well and nothing bad has happened, but he’s tired. He needed to rest today and he’ll need to rest tomorrow. I think he’ll be on the bench at the start of next week for the next game. I think that’s possible.
“Paulo [Dybala] is doing well and is within the timeframes that we were expecting. Obviously he’ll be out tomorrow.
“Mancini hasn’t trained all week. He trained today for the first time and he’s going to play tomorrow. He’s one of those who plays unless he has a triple tibia or fibula fracture. As the team needs him, he’s going to be involved. He’ll play tomorrow. [Houssem] Aouar is still far away.”
Chris Smalling’s name came up as well, and the news was even less encouraging.
“I haven’t seen him out on the pitch yet. He continues to be assessed by the medical department. He hasn’t even trained individually out on the pitch yet, so there’s still a long way to go.”
Nevertheless, even though Dybala, Aouar, and others will be out, the Giallorossi will still be in a better position from a manpower perspective than last weekend in Emilia-Romagna. That’s because Romelu Lukaku and Nicola Zalewski return from red card suspension. The return of the Big Belgian could be crucial, considering how toothless the Giallorossi were in attack without him and Dybala.
He’ll lead the line, most likely with Stephan El Shaarawy. They’ll be supported by a midfield consisting of Bryan Cristante, Leandro Paredes, and either Lorenzo Pellegrini or Edoardo Bove—with many sources in Italy tipping Bove. Meanwhile, Zalewski is expected to return to the XI after his suspension, with Rasmus Kristensen on the opposite wing. Lastly, defense and goalkeeper will remain unchanged as Mancini fights through injury.
ROMA (3-5-2): Patricio; Ndicka, Llorente, Mancini; Zalewski, Bove, Paredes, Cristante, Kristensen; El Shaarawy, Lukaku.