Roma v Atalanta preview: Smalling to start as Mancini suspended for visit of old club

Roma face one of their toughest tests of the season so far when they host Atalanta on Wednesday night, in the first midweek Serie A match of the campaign.

Atalanta broke up the natural order in the league last season by finishing above the likes of Roma, Milan and Lazio in the table, earning their first ever Champions League qualification. Their European curtain-raiser ended as a 4-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, however – one of several mixed results they have endured so far.

Roma are one point above them in fourth place, having started with an unbeaten run that now stretches to five games in all competitions under Paulo Fonseca. Atalanta showed last season that they can pose a threat to any team, so will be eager to be the ones to put a halt to Roma’s run.

One player Roma poached from their opponents over the summer was Gianluca Mancini, the defender who was sent off in the win over Bologna at the weekend. That suspension means English centre-back Chris Smalling will come into the lineup for his debut, having shaken off a knock which had kept him sidelined since the Derby Della Capitale draw with Lazio.

That swap is unlikely to be the only change that Fonseca makes, given the intense schedule facing the team at present. Fatigue appeared to be creeping in for some players on Sunday, so this could be another opportunity to rotate the squad – not that it will be an easy match.

Bryan Cristante is another former Atalanta man who has been a regular for Roma in the first few games, and formed part of an effective double midfield solution with Jordan Veretout in the last two league outings. That partnership could continue, although Amadou Diawara will also be eager for opportunities.

Nicolo Zaniolo was also on the bench at the weekend, but will be pushing for a starting berth again, having replaced Justin Kluivert early in the second half.

The game kicks off at 6pm UK time, and will be shown live on Premier Sports 1.


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