Roma v Napoli preview: Defensive dilemma as Manolas makes return

Roma return to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to take on rivals Napoli in the Derby Del Sole.

Currently ahead of their opponents in the Serie A table for the first time since the end of the 2016-17 season, Roma are looking to extend their unbeaten run to eight games after an impressive win over Udinese in midweek.

With the squad thin on the ground, Roma’s personnel crisis took another hit when Federico Fazio was controversially sent off, meaning he will be suspended for Saturday’s game – but Roma showed great spirit to blow away their opponents with a 4-0 win.

Such a scoreline would be unlikely tomorrow, but Napoli are also dealing with their own absences. Midfield lynchpin Allan is ruled out for the encounter, while manager Carlo Ancelotti has a touchline ban.

This is the first meeting between the two sides since Kostas Manolas and Amadou Diawara moved in opposite directions in a swap deal this summer. With Diawara sidelined for Roma, Manolas will be the only one of the pair to come up against his former side.

While the Greek hasn’t necessarily been missed since his exit, Roma’s injury problems mean there is a defensive dilemma. With Fazio suspended, the impressive Chris Smalling will be partnered either by Mert Cetin, who would be making his first start, Gianluca Mancini, whose return to the backline would leave a gap in midfield, or Juan Jesus, who has only just returned to training after an injury.

That will be one of the few selection dilemmas Paulo Fonseca does have, as the coach continues to seek to make best use of the limited squad he has at his disposal. The game kicks off at 2pm UK time. A replay is expected to be shown on Premier Sports 2 at 10pm on Sunday.


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