Hellas Verona v Roma preview: Trip to take on a team in transition

Roma are back on their travels this weekend as they visit Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi to face Hellas Verona upon their return to Serie A action on Sunday.

Since returning from the international break, Roma have enjoyed two home games, beating Sassuolo and CSKA Sofia in Serie A and the Europa Conference League respectively. Now, they are on the road for the first time since their 4-0 triumph over Salernitana in late August.

The opponents are a Hellas Verona side who have just lost their manager in Eusebio Di Francesco. The ex-Roma boss, who famously led the Giallorossi to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018, was sacked after just a few games in charge and has been replaced by former Juventus assistant Igor Tudor.

Thus, it is hard to know what to expect from the hosts – whereas a clear picture of what Roma are like under Jose Mourinho is already building up.

Mourinho has enjoyed his best ever start to a managerial job by winning his first six games with Roma, a record he is looking to keep up. He needs four more victories to match Rudi Garcia’s famous streak of 10 in a row in 2013.

As always, he has reiterated that the approach is one game at a time, though, as Roma look to reclaim the top spot they climbed to last week.

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Although Roma do not publish their squad list in advance for matches under Mourinho, the coach has confirmed some team news. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Matias Vina both suffered knocks recently, but they shouldn’t be too serious. The former has travelled with the squad and the latter has not. Mkhitaryan is unlikely to start, still, giving a chance for Stephan El Shaarawy to continue his two-game scoring streak.

In Vina’s absence, Riccardo Calafiori could cover again. On the opposite flank of defence, meanwhile, concerns have been raised about the depth behind Rick Karsdorp, who himself isn’t at 100%. But Mourinho said rather than reintegrate the frozen out Davide Santon, he would call up versatile Primavera captain Filippo Tripi.

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Elsewhere in his pre-match press conference, Mourinho denied he had a problem with Gonzalo Villar, other than the fact that Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout are in good form. Therefore, the latter pairing can be expected to continue in midfield.

Similarly to Villar, Mourinho said the only thing Borja Mayoral needs to do to get more gametime is for “FIFA to allow us to play 12 on the pitch”. Confirming his opinion of the Spaniard has become more positive since his arrival, the coach suggested there will be the possibility of playing with two strikers when required. Although, it is not clear if he would change what has been a winning formula so far for this match.

Roma’s last visit to the Bentegodi, of course, ended as a 3-0 walkover defeat due to the ineligibility of Amadou Diawara. Everything is in order this year, though – so it seems – so what happens on the pitch will do the talking.

Besides that debacle, Roma haven’t lost to Hellas in the 21st Century, so will be hoping to pile more misery on a side yet to earn a point this season.

The game kicks off at 5pm UK time and will be available to watch live on BT Sport 2.

Francesco Totti’s autobiography is released in English this month by deCoubertin – you can pre-order it here.

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