Roma restart their European campaign, hoping to replay what they have done last season – that is, winning the first ever edition of the Conference League.
Their first rivals in Europa League’s knockout phase are Red Bull Salzburg, the Austrian side that joined the competition after failing to qualify for Champions League’s last 16 closing their group behind Chelsea and Milan.
Roma’s coach Jose Mourinho has showed nothing but respect for Salzburg during yesterday’s press conference but he’s also aware that unlike last season, this year his team is not the main contender for winning the trophy.
“Now the sharks will enter the competition” Mourinho said last November after grabbing the qualification referring to teams coming form the Champions League.
That is one mind game to take off some pressure from his team and remove any expectations over his players.
Tonight’s game is a great opportunity for Roma to get back to winning ways after the 1-1 draw away at Lecce in the last Serie A game but they will face a more rested team.
The season in Austria have restarted just a couple of weeks since the World Cup break back in November and Salzburg have only played one league game since then.
During the last transfer window the team has lost on of their key players as captain Maximilian Wöber has been sold to Premier League’s side Leeds where he rejoint his former team mate Rasmus Kristensen and for a small brief of time his former coach Jesse Marsch.
Results from their last five matches in all competitions:
Red Bull Salzburg:
W L W W L
D W L L W
Jose Mourinho has announced he won’t rest any of his starters. That means that Tammy Abraham and Paulo Dybala will start the game.
Georginio Wijnaldum made the squad but he won’t be a starter, as confirmed by Mourinho. The PSG loanee played against Lecce on Saturday his first game since last August’s fracture to the tibia in his right leg.
The big news is that Rick Karsdorp is back for the first time since the altercation he had in November with Jose Mourinho, when the Portuguese coach openly accused the player’s lack of commitment and asked him to find a new team.
Red Bull Salzburg miss three players: Daouda Guindo (knee), Justin Omoregie (back) and Samson Tijani (leg).
Benjamin Sesko is back in the squad after missing Saturday’s league game againts Lustenau. The soon-to-be Lepizig’s striker is in competition with Brazilian starlet Fernando to play alongside Okafor.
Red Bull Salzburg (4-3-1-2): Kohn; Dedic, Solet, Pavlovic, Ulmer; Kjaergaard, Gourna-Douath, Seiwald; Sucic; Sesko, Okafor.
Roma (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Zalewski, Cristante, Matic, El Shaarawy; Dybala, Pellegrini; Abraham.
Andrea Agostinelli | GIFN