After a rough run of form in Serie A that has all but doomed Roma’s Champions League, the club's priority quickly became the Europa league, which offers not only the promise of a trophy but a berth into the Champions League. That new strategy paid dividends on Thursday, as Roma was able to grind out a 0-0 draw in Leverkusen that saw the Giallorossi through to the Europa League Final in Budapest at the end of the month.
While the trio of Chris Smalling, Paulo Dybala, and Stephan El Shaarawy had recovered, they weren't yet ready to play a full 90 minutes. Nevertheless, Mourinho's men were able to get the job done with a makeshift formation, needing only Smalling to protect their 1-0 aggregate lead over Bayer.
Now, however, Mourinho must find a way to build up those players’ fitness ahead of the final while also protecting his key men from injury. It’ll certainly be a balancing act for the Special One as he won’t want any of his players to lose form but will also want them as fresh as possible for the finale against Sevilla on May 31st.
Roma’s entire starting XI against the Campania-based side is anyone’s guess, but it should be a mix of regulars and youngsters. One place we expect to see rotation is on the wings where Filippo Missori and Nicola Zalewski will start in place of Leonardo Spinazzola and Zeki Çelik who are battling through minor injuries. We may also see Mile Svilar get his second consecutive league start tomorrow.
And it’s possible that we’ll see youngsters Benjamin Tahirovic and Edoardo Bove anchoring the midfield if Bryan Cristante remains in central defense. This match should also present an opportunity for Ola Solbakken and Andrea Belotti to lead the attack like last weekend against Bologna.
There will be no rest for the wary though as Pellegrini, Cristante, and Mancini are all expected to start again. Meanwhile, we’ll likely see Smalling, Dybala, and El Shaarawy in the second half as they look to build up their fitness for the trip to Budapest.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Svilar; Ibañez, Cristante, Mancini; Zalewski, Bove, Tahirovic, Missori; Pellergini, Solbakken; Belotti.