The longer the Serie A season goes on, the clearer the Champions League picture becomes, and thanks to the (just) 15-point deduction to Juventus, the Giallorossi now find themselves comfortably in the hunt for any spot in the standings save first. Today’s match against fourteenth-placed Lecce will give Roma a chance to solidify their hold on a spot in the top four, and a win would put pressure on Inter Milan to seize all three points against Sampdoria on Monday.
There were rumors suggesting that José Mourinho would avoid heavy rotation in this match despite a trip to Salzburg coming up on Thursday, and those rumors were proven accurate. The Pellegrini/Dybala/Abraham trio is once again starting in attack, with Bryan Cristante and Nemanja Matić playing in their usual (if sometimes derided) double-pivot behind them in midfield. Perhaps the most notable inclusion in the starting eleven today is Stephan El Shaarawy, who seems to have fought his way back into good form and José Mourinho’s good graces. He’ll be playing opposite Nicola Zalewski on the wing, with Roma’s world-class centerback trio of Chris Smalling, Roger Ibañez, and Gianluca Mancini holding it down in front of Rui Patricio as per usual.
Beyond a potential cameo appearance for Gini Wijnaldum, I’m hopeful that we may see a bit more playtime for Ola Solbakken and Cristian Volpato in the second half of this match if the Giallorossi get themselves an early lead. Especially with Nicolò Zaniolo off to Turkey, Roma needs the rest of its attackers to fulfill their promise and allow players like Tammy Abraham to have rest when needed. A couple weeks of good form from either Solbakken or Volpato will make it that much easier for Roma to go deep in the Europa League knockout rounds and maintain a hold on a top-four position in Serie A.
As always, follow along with us here in the comments section and on your social media panopticon of choice. Daje Roma!