Given all the doom and gloom currently descending on the Romaverse right now, it may be easy to forget that Roma is, in fact, alive and well in the Europa League. Their path to the knockout rounds wasn't as free and clear as we once imagined, as they struggled mightily in the group stages, playing to a 3-1-2 (W-D-L) record. However, despite those struggles, Roma finished the group campaign with a flourish, defeating Ludogerts 3-1 in early November to secure a spot in the knockout rounds, where the Giallorossi will face Salzburg.
After finishing third in a tough Champions League group that featured Chelsea and AC Milan, the Austrian club parachuted down to the Europa League, where they will face a Roma side suddenly embroiled in controversy.
As if Nicolo Zaniolo's on-again-off-again transfer saga weren't enough to distract his squad, José Mourinho stoked the flames of discontent during Wednesday's Coppa Italia defeat to Cremonese, storming into the tunnel several minutes before the halftime whistle. While Mourinho's actions paint the picture of a man coming to terms with the task handed to him, let's give credit to Cremonese. The Serie A newcomers may be sitting rock bottom in the standings now and may very well find themselves relegated come spring, but they knocked Napoli and Roma out of the Coppa Italia in successive rounds—not a bad feather in their cap.
With those distractions (hopefully) in the rearview mirror, Roma is poised to press ahead in the Europa League. And with the first leg against Salzburg set for February 16th, the club released their official squad list earlier today, one that includes Zaniolo, Rick Karsdorp, and Mady Camara, three players that have fallen by the wayside for markedly different reasons.
Despite seemingly making the cut, Zaniolo was also granted a 30-day sabbatical from the squad, so he isn't likely to travel with the team, let alone suit up for an actual match. Karsdorp, who drew Mourinho's ire earlier this winter, could see action against Salzburg simply because Roma lacks depth at both full-back spots. Camara, meanwhile, has been cast aside for reasons unknown and may slip even further down the pecking order now that summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum is back after fracturing his leg late last summer.