Roma get their 2020-21 campaign underway on Saturday night with a visit to Verona.
Paulo Fonseca is entering his second season as Roma boss, looking to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish.
The campaign begins with Fonseca’s squad quite thin on the ground. Federico Fazio, Juan Jesus, Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under, all linked with departures, are absent from the squad.
One exit-linked player who is available, though, is Edin Dzeko. The Roma captain was thought to be on the verge of joining Juventus, but the move has not happened before kick-off.
There is a chance that Dzeko sits the game out, so as not to risk the potential transfer. However, if he plays, it could be his final farewell – against the very club he made his Roma debut against five years ago.
Should Dzeko remain on the bench, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is likely to start as a false nine. The attacking midfielder was Roma’s second top scorer behind Dzeko last season, and has played in a more advanced role in pre-season.
Options elsewhere are limited. Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gonzalo Villar could occupy the two attacking midfield spots, with Mirko Antonucci the only fit alternative.
With Fazio and Jesus left out and new signing Marash Kumbulla not ready to start, Bryan Cristante could play in between Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez in defence.
Kumbulla could come on at any point, though, against the club he has just left to join Roma.
Fonseca: "Kumbulla arrived yesterday - he's trained twice with us. He'll be in the squad but he's not ready to start yet. He needs time to adjust to our style but I'm pleased we've signed him."— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) September 18, 2020
#ASRoma #VeronaRoma pic.twitter.com/qdW2JDNGai
There is also a place in the squad for other new arrival Pedro, who has returned to training following a shoulder injury. He is probably not ready to start, though.
Pedro will wear the number 11 shirt, while fellow new signing Kumbulla takes number 24. Meanwhile, Ibanez has changed his number from 41 to 3 for the new season.
Three of the four players who tested positive for coronavirus last month are healthy again and back in the squad, but Bruno Peres, having only just returned a negative test, is still absent.
Therefore, Rick Karsdorp will likely play at right-back, having revived his chances in pre-season. Indeed, Fonseca confirmed at his pre-match press conference that the Dutchman is not just an emergency solution, but will stay this season.
Of the returning players, neither Carles Perez nor Justin Kluivert has been in training long enough to start. However, Antonio Mirante – the first to test positive and the first to recover – could have a chance of playing in goal instead of Pau Lopez. Fonseca refused to commit to who his number one will be at his press conference.
Roma’s form against Verona has been good in recent years. The Giallorossi did the double over the Gialloblu last season, and haven’t lost against them since 1996. That loss was the only time Roma have tasted defeat away to their opponents.
In a further statistical boost to Roma’s expectations, they have won all four games against teams managed by Verona boss Ivan Juric in the past.
The game kicks off at 7:45pm UK time. Fans can watch it live on Premier Sports 1.