Jose Mourinho says Roma have ‘potential’ when everyone is available, but that is certainly not the case against Empoli, as Houssem Aouar is the latest absentee, so Renato Sanches and Evan N’Dicka are rushed into the XI.
It kicks off at the Stadio Olimpico at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).
This has been a disastrous start for both teams, as the Giallorossi have just one point from three rounds, while Empoli have lost all their games without scoring a goal.
For the first time, Romelu Lukaku and Paulo Dybala are able to start together upfront.
“We are certainly not close to our potential yet. This team has potential when we are all working together, who can play three, four, five games in a row. Then this side has potential,” Mourinho told DAZN.
There had been reports that Renato Sanches and Leandro Paredes were not fully fit, but they are both in the starting XI tonight.
“We all love Renato, when he doesn’t have problems. Unfortunately, in recent years even the Portugal squad is forced to wait for him. He has immense potential, has suffered in recent seasons and perhaps today it is a little premature to start him, but this morning we had the news that Aouar could not play.
“Therefore, Renato has to start. The team needs Renato and Renato needs the team to play well so he can feel at ease.”
Mourinho also turned his focus to the lack of alternatives in defence, as Chris Smalling is out injured with Lorenzo Pellegrini, Marash Kumbulla and Tammy Abraham.
“There are only four central defenders, so when one is missing, we only have three. There is always the option of using Cristante in there, which we did last season during difficult moments.
“When you are missing Pellegrini and Aouar in midfield, then Llorente has to move into the centre of the trio. N’Dicka is learning to play for us. It is not a test for him today, but a good opportunity for him to grow with us.”
At least Roma can start their all-new strike partnership of Lukaku and Dybala.
“They are two talented players. We always have this feeling with Paulo wondering how long we are going to have him. Lukaku arrived well considering he didn’t play at Chelsea, but he played two games for Belgium.
“Paulo seems happy to me and that usually means his physique is happy too.”