Missing Players and team news:
Roma’s Stephan El Shaarawy will miss up to a fortnight’s action after suffering a thigh injury in the draw with Sassuolo last weekend, in which he missed a golden one-on-one opportunity to effectively win the match. The Azzurri forward was forced off in the 74th minute and has now been ruled out of both legs of this quarter-final tie. It has also been confirmed that Albania defender Marash Kumbulla sustained an injured meniscus on international duty and will miss the remainder of the Giallorossi’s 2020-2021 campaign, while opting for a recovery route of rest and therapy rather than surgery. In the absence of Kumbulla, injury-prone Englishman Chris Smalling and the suspended Roger Ibanez, former Feyenoord wing-back Rick Karsdorp was unexpectedly pressed into service as a center-back on Saturday, with his positioning proving understandably suspect on several occasions. As either Smalling or Ibanez should be available to join Gianluca Mancini and the versatile Bryan Cristante in the visitors’ back three, Karsdorp can return to the flank in Paulo Fonseca’s customary 3-4-2-1 formation. Attacking starlet Nicolo Zaniolo continues his recovery from a torn ACL while on Italy duty last year, but is not yet fit to return, while his fellow creative talent Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also still absent. Meanwhile, set-piece specialist Jordan Veretout has only just recovered from a serious thigh strain sustained before the international break, so Amadou Diawara is set to continue in central midfield. Europa League top scorer Borja Mayoral will once more go head-to-head with the experienced Edin Dzeko for the centre-forward’s shirt. Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is doubtful for the first leg of the quarter-final against his former club. Having ended his first spell at the Amsterdam side with a move to Roma in 2011, the Dutch international spent the next two seasons with the Giallorossi – making 55 appearances – but is currently struggling with a knee injury. The veteran stopper picked up the problem in the warm-up ahead of the match against Heerenveen, so Netherlands Under-21 goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen made an unexpected league debut – only his second appearance in the first team. Scherpen could therefore make his European bow if Stekelenburg fails to recover in time, with erstwhile first-choice Andre Onana still excluded for a doping offence. Full-back Noussair Mazraoui sustained a head injury in mid-February and is yet to make his return to action, while defensive stalwart Daley Blind could sit out another game due to a knee issue sustained on international duty. Ajax notoriously omitted record signing Sebastien Haller from their Europa League squad due to an administrative error – something which has plagued Roma this season too – so the 26-year-old Ivory Coast forward will have no part to play in the remainder of their continental campaign. In Haller’s absence, influential skipper Dusan Tadic may operate as a false nine for the hosts, having done so to great effect in the past, or Leipzig-bound Brian Brobbey could start instead. Jurrien Timber made his return from COVID-19 infection at the weekend and should keep his place at right-back, though could cover in the centre if required.
Ajax – Roma: Preview and Highest Odds