The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Roma. Just two weeks ago, it was all doom and gloom in the Italian capital. Through three match weeks, the Giallorossi tallied just one point in three matches—their worst start to a season in decades. On top of that, Paulo Dybala, Renato Sanches, and Houssem Aouar were all injured in that three-match span.
The perfect remedy for all that? A 7-0 destruction of Empoli at the Olimpico last Sunday. It was the kind of offensive outpouring that Romanisti had grown all too accustomed to (on the other side of the scoreboard) over the last decade and a half. However, this time it was the Giallorossi attack knocking home goals in clinical fashion while keeping their opponents at bay.
Roma followed that up with a hard-fought 2-1 victory in their Europa League opener in Tiraspol, Moldova—a mid-week road match that had the makings of a potential slip-up. Fortunately, Roma managed to come back to the peninsula feeling good about itself with all three points.
This weekend, Mourinho’s men turn their attention to Ivan Juric’s Torino, so let’s check out the match keys for tomorrow’s trip to the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.
What To Watch For
Can Big Rom Keep Rolling?
Despite the slow start to the season, the arrival of Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea gave Romanisti plenty of hope that the offense could produce more goals than last season. Nevertheless, I don’t know if anyone could’ve predicted the seven-goal outburst that Roma produced last weekend.
In that match, Lukaku scored his first goal as a Roma player on a brilliant counterattack that made it 6-0 in favor of the Giallorossi. For an encore, Lukaku scored the winning goal in Moldova on a lovely give-and-go with Paulo Dybala. It’s a strike partnership that has Roma fans salivating for moments like those.
Roma’s two superstar attackers will face a tougher challenge against a Torino side that has produced three clean sheets in four matches so far this season. In his typical fashion, Ivan Juric has instilled a defense-first mentality in his club. Roma may have the perfect antidote in the Lukaku-Dybala tandem, and how well Roma breaks down the Rodriguez-Buongiorno-Schurrs backline may ultimately come down to how busy Big Roma keeps them.
Can Rui Round Into Form?
One of the most concerning parts of Roma’s slow start was the play of veteran keeper Rui Patricio. If it was up to most Romanisiti, Patricio would’ve been shown the door after last season. However, with Roma’s lack of funds, it was always unlikely that the Portuguese veteran would be replaced before the last season of his three-year deal.
Last weekend, things improved with Roma in control for the entire match, but he wasn’t tested all that much, facing only eight shots while making two saves. We’ll see how much Torino tests him tomorrow, but Roma needs Patricio to be at least an average keeper if it’s going to achieve its season objectives.
A solid performance in Turin would go a long way in rebuilding the fanbase’s trust in the veteran while restoring the keeper’s own confidence.
How Much Line-Up Turnover Will We See?
With three matches in eight days, including travel to Eastern Europe and then up to Northern Italy, it’s likely that José Mourinho will make some changes to his starting lineup tomorrow. Chris Smalling and Lorenzo Pellegrini are expected back in some capacity after missing out on the last two matches.
However, it’s unlikely either starts from the opening whistle. And considering the injury sustained by Renato Sanches in Moldova, the options in midfield will remain limited, though Leandro Paredes, who came on for Sanches midweek, is likely to start against Torino.
We're more likely to see changes at goalkeeper and wing-back, where Leonardo Spinazzola and Rasmus Kristensen are expected to replace Nicola Zalewski and Rick Karsdorp out wide, while Rui Patricio should return to the starting eleven after being given Thursday off.
ROMA (3-5-2): Patricio; Ndicka, Llorente, Mancini; Spinazzola, Aouar, Cristante, Paredes, Kristensen; Dybala, Lukaku.