The old saying goes “when it rains, it pours”. And when it comes to Roma’s current injury situation, especially along the back line, it couldn’t ring any truer. After losing Chris Smalling two weeks ago in the return leg against Feyenoord, his immediate replacement, Diego Llorente, went down in the next match against Atalanta. In stepped Max Kumbulla, who lasted just 15 minutes before blowing a knee ligament in the very next match against Milan.
That succession of injuries has led to Roma—which has employed a three center back system all season long—with just two healthy center backs. That’s an issue in a two match week that sees Roma travel to Monza before hosting Inter. In the course of the match against Milan, Mourinho turned to Bryan Cristante to slide into defense from midfield.
However, with Nemanja Matic suspended and Gini Wijnaldum still out injured, it seems more likely that Mourinho will keep Cristante in the midfield and slot Zeki Celik into the back three. That would mean a start for Nicola Zalewski at right wing back. Additionally, given the absences in midfield, Edoardo Bove looks set to start alongside Cristante. If Mourinho does decide to keep Cristante in defense, then Mady Camara would have to step into midfield alongside Bove.
Moving up the pitch, Roma will also be without Andrea Belotti, who tore rib cartilage against Milan. Meanwhile, Paulo Dybala is expected to start from the bench. That likely means Ola Solbakken and Lorenzo Pellegrini supporting Tammy Abraham. Lastly, with Inter looming on Saturday, Leo Spinazzola could start from the bench with Stephan El Shaarawy getting the start at left wing back.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Ibañez, Mancini, Celik; El Shaarawy, Bove, Cristante, Zalewski; Pellegrini, Solbakken; Abraham.