Rui Patricio’s role as Roma’s starting keeper was questioned early and often this season as he was found to be at fault for a handful of goals during the Giallorossi’s lackluster start. Calls for Mile Svilar quieted down a bit as Patricio’s game steadied in the autumn and into winter. However, after allowing a long-range goal to Verona’s Michael Folorunsho last weekend, calls again began for the Portuguese veteran’s head. Nevertheless, his new manager, Daniele De Rossi, seems to be squarely in his corner during his prematch presser.
“I’d already decided that when I got here. I kept the last few months in mind. I think Rui [Patricio] made some great saves. One match won’t change my opinion on the goalkeeper or on any hierarchy. You’ve got to have a well-established hierarchy, I think. It’s not final though. You have to look at performance and how they’re training.
“I’m happy with both of them. I didn’t know Mile [Svilar] as much but he impressed me. A mistake won’t change my mind on Rui. He’s saved us on many occasions over the last few months. I still watched the games, despite not being here. He’s completely focused on what he has to do on Monday, not on the past, so I’m very calm.”
In front of Patricio, De Rossi is expected to stick with the same 4-3-2-1, which powered the Giallorossi to victory in his managerial debut last weekend at the Olimpico. However, with both Bryan Cristante and Gianluca Mancini back from suspension and the loss of Leo Spinazzola to injury and Leandro Paredes to suspension, there will be some changes to the personnel.
De Rossi was asked about Cristante and his fit with Paredes in the midfield—even though that won’t be an issue this weekend due to the Argentine’s suspension.
“I think they can play very well together but Cristante is a pillar of our team, our dressing room, and our National Team.
“[At my farewell conference] I was referring to him as a human being. The question was: do you need to be from Rome to progress in Roma. No because there’s one who’s not from Rome and he does his job in the way I’d want everyone to do their job. He’s a serious professional, he helps his team-mates, and he’s a great player. I continue to be amazed by Bryan. I’m happy he’s back. I wanted him in the first match.
“He changes things on the pitch, more than the formation. Some patterns change. Maybe Leo has more quality and Cristante has more dynamism, physicality, he shoots more and makes more runs. Something changes, but in a way that it would change if you put on any other player. If you play [Romelu] Lukaku, [Sardar] Azmoun or [Andrea] Belotti, something changes then too. It changes if you switch goalkeeper.
“The dynamic will change due to the technical characteristics of the player, but our gameplay won’t change. We’ve got lots of technical players, who are full of personality and energy that I think can play together too.”
Those comments likely mean that we’ll see that duo again—much like we saw under Mourinho—moving forward. However, this weekend, Cristante will slide into the Argentine’s regista spot with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Edoardo Bove flanking him as the mezz’ale.
There will be some changes in defense besides Cristante, who is coming in for Paredes. With Mancini back, Roma’s vice-captain will partner Diego Llorente in place of Dean Huijsen. And with Angeliño not yet arrived and Nicola Zalewski playing in attack under De Rossi, Rasmus Kristensen is expected to play opposite Rick Karsdorp. Lastly, the attack will remain unchanged after Stephan El Shaarawy and Paulo Dybala provided plenty of dynamism behind Romelu Lukaku.
ROMA (4-3-2-1): Patricio; Kristensen, Llorente, Manicni, Karsdorp; Bove, Cristante, Pellegrini; El Shaarawy, Dybala; Lulaku.