(Assist: Lorenzo Pellegrini)
(Assist: Nicolò Zaniolo)
Roma resume Europa League play Thursday evening when they host Finnish side HJK Helsinki in the Italian capital.
Both clubs enter tomorrow looking for their first points of the group stage, the Giallorossi were shocked last week in Bulgaria and lost 2-1 to Ludogorets while HJK were beaten 2-0 at home by Real Betis.
It’s been over 30 years since Roma last faced Finnish opposition in a UEFA fixture, their one previous contest dating back to the second round of the 1991/92 European Cup Winners’ Cup when they eliminated Ilves of Tampere, drawing 1-1 away before winning 5-2 at home.
In addition, Jose Mourinho’s side enters Thursday’s clash on an impressive run of 19 European games unbeaten at the Stadio Olimpico, winning 13 and drawing 6. The capital club’s last defeat at home came all the way back in 2018 when they lost 2-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage.
Previewing the clash during his pre-match press conference today, Mourinho also revealed Nicolo Zaniolo will make his return to the starting lineup after recovering from a separated shoulder injury.
“Nicolo will play tomorrow,” Mourinho confirmed. “He wanted to come back as quickly as possible and worked intensively with the doctors and the medical staff.”
“He was determined to be available to the team. Even on Monday against Empoli he still wasn’t 100% but he wanted to take a risk and get back on to the pitch.”
He added, “I don’t know if he will have 90 minutes in him but I am sure he will play at a high level, he has a lot of motivation and he is full of confidence. He was playing very well before the injury.”
As for their opposition, HJK have lost their three previous UEFA matches in Italy, failing to score in all of them, most recently going down 2-0 to Torino on Matchday 3 of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League.
They did, however, win the return fixture in Helsinki a fortnight later, not only ending a run of five defeats against Italian sides but also scoring their first goals against them in a 2-1 win.
Kick-off is scheduled for 21.00 local time in Rome.
(4-2-3-1): Rui Patricio; Çelik, Mancini, Ibañez, Viña; Camara, Cristante; Zaniolo, Dybala, Pellegrini; Belotti
(4-3-3): Hazard; Arajuuri, Peltola, Toivio, Murilo; Hetemaj, Lingman, Kokko; Terho, Abubakari, Radulovic