As you’re probably well aware by now, Roma’s loss on Thursday in Rotterdam ended up being not only frustrating but also painful. That’s because the Giallorossi lost both Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham to injuries against Feyenoord. Both will be out for at least Sunday’s match against Udinese. And throw in last weekend’s separated shoulder for Ola Solbakken, and Mourinho will be without three of his attacking options for this match.
With both Dybala and Abraham out, Roma will need someone to step up and put the ball in the back of the net. Many will be hoping that Andrea Belotti will be that guy as he leads the line against the Zebrette. Playing in support of him will be captain Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy, who’s seen his role grow in recent weeks.
One place where Mourinho does have options is in the central midfield, where he’ll choose between Bryan Cristante, Nemanja Matic, and Gini Wijnaldum. With Matic one yellow away from suspension, and another crucial match against Atalanta looming on Monday, I think it’s likely he tries to protect his trusted veteran a bit in this one.
Playing wide in the midfield at wing-back is expected to be what has become the regular pair of Leo Spinazzola and Nicola Zalewski. It seems Mourinho will continue to ride Zalewski on the right in spite of his defensive deficiencies. One other place we could see a surprise start is along the backline, where both Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport are tipping Diego Llorente to start over Roger Ibañez after his recent impressive performances.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Llorente, Smalling, Mancini; Spinazzola, Cristante, Wijnaldum, Zalewski; Pellergini, El Shaarawy; Belotti.