How Could Roma Line-up Against Spezia?

Serie A Matchday 16 closes out at the Stadio Olimpico as an out-of-form Roma take on 17th-placed Spezia in a must-win encounter. Approaching the business end of the calendar year, the Giallorossi are languishing in mid-table following a couple of sluggish performances. 

A hard-earned 3-2 at CSKA Sofia in Thursday’s Europa Conference League fixture sealed Roma’s place in the competition’s knock-outs. However, making it out to the elimination stage of Europe’s third-tier tournament has not been enough to mask their underwhelming domestic exploits. 

After losing their last two Serie A matches to Inter and Bologna without scoring, Jose Mourinho can ill-afford another mistake against hot relegation candidates. With the pressure ramping up on the Special One, Roma welcome Thiago Motta’s Spezia for a top-flight match-up they have to win at all costs.

Sat 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Napoli, the Giallorossi have to make their game-in-hand over the Partenopei count if they are to remain in contention for a coveted top-four finish. As for Spezia, a four-match winless Serie A streak (D1, L3) puts them in 17th ahead of the kick-off, only two points clear of relegation-threatened Genoa. 

Head-to-Head Record

Roma came out on top of a seven-goal thriller to claim a 4-3 home victory over Spezia in their first-ever Serie A meeting last season. However, the Giallorossi had to come from a 2-0 half-time deficit to earn a 2-2 draw in their most recent top-flight showdown back in May.

Since both last season’s Serie A H2Hs witnessed both sides score at least twice, Stadio Olimpico could be a venue of entertainment on Monday. A high-octane first half is also well on the cards, as both of their previous league clashes have featured precisely two goals before half-time. 

Roma Team News

Mourinho will have to make a couple of changes at the back as indispensable starter Gianluca Mancini won’t be available due to a yellow-card suspension. The Italian centre-back’s absence could force Marash Kumbulla’s return to the starting line-up alongside Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez in Mourinho’s three-man backline. 

The Portuguese manager’s selection woes go on. After accumulating yellow cards against Inter last time out, Nicolo Zaniolo will have to watch Spezia’s visit from the stands. Joining the youngster on the sidelines will be Stephan El Shaarawy, who sustained a calf injury. 

Meanwhile, captain Lorenzo Pellegrini is a long-term absentee. The same goes for Italy’s Euro 2020 hero Leonardo Spinazzola. The illustrious playmaker has been Roma’s best player this season by distance and his absence is a massive problem for Mourinho’s side. 

With Pellegrini out of the picture, it will be up to Henrikh Mkhitaryan to shoulder the creative burden. The Armenian midfield dynamo has racked up four Serie A assists this season. However, his last goal contribution dates back to Roma’s 1-0 win over Torino in late November, while he last scored in his side’s 2-0 victory over Empoli in early October. 

Roma Predicted Line-up (3-1-4-2): Rui Patricio; Marash Kumbulla, Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez; Bryan Cristante; Jordan Veretout, Matias Vina, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Gonzalo Villar; Borja Mayoral, Tammy Abraham.