Juventus v Roma
Serie A Match Preview
The weekend’s big game in Italy takes place on Sunday evening at the J Stadium, as Juventus look to increase their unbeaten run against an out of form Roma.
10 CONSECUTIVE WINS MAKES JUVE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH ONCE MORE
Juventus are on the charge, 10 wins out of 10 has put them just two points off top-spot in Serie A as Massimo Allegri’s team steam-rollers everything in its path. They went easy on poor Udinese last weekend; the defending champions were four goals ahead before half-time and only eased off in the second-half because of the busy schedule ahead of them. Whilst their early season form put them closer to the relegation zone than to the Champions League places, their current blistering pace is the hallmark of champions (currently quoted at *1.90 on the best football betting sites to retain their crown) not only domestically, but in Europe too as they countdown the days until they meet Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League in February. A mid-week win in the Coppa Italia against Lazio hardly stretched Allegri’s supremely talented squad, their capital neighbours will not be looking forward to entering the lion’s den on Sunday.
SPALLETTI RETURNS TO BOOST ROMAN HOPES
The return of the “Prodigal Son” Luciano Spalleti to Roma last week, briefly raised spirits before the Giallorossi disappointed on the field once more against bottom side Hellas Verona on Sunday. Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko hasn’t scored for over two months and the defence looks nervous every time their opponents cross the halfway line. The 57-year-old tactician from Certaldo, has a huge task on his hands to galvanise the team back into something like the one that thrilled supporters just two years ago, during former coach Rudi Garcia’s first season in charge. Additions will be made to the squad before the end of the current transfer window, the immediate worry for everyone connected with the club, is can they escape from Turin without taking another confidence-sapping defeat?
Having spent most of Wednesday night’s cup match on the bench, the brilliant Argentine striker Paulo Dybala (11 goals already this season in 19 appearances), returns to the starting XI for Juventus on Sunday. The best online sports betting websites currently price him at *5.50 to open the scoring. He will be joined up front by Mario Mandzukic, who also spent most of the game in mid-week on the sidelines. With Italian international defender Andrea Barzagli doubtful for the weekend, young Daniele Rugani should deputise in defence. Sami Khedira will in all probability, also come back into the starting line-up for the visit of Roma.
Spalletti may tinker with the starting formation for the trip to Turin, with Belgian international Radja Nainggolan dropping back into a more defensive role. Dzeko will be given another chance to end his goal drought and he will be assisted up front by Mohamed Salah and Alessandro Florenzi. After giving away a decisive penalty last weekend, Brazilian defender Leandro Castan should make way for Anthony Rudiger. Francesco Totti, a veteran of so many games against Juventus, will start from the bench.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Juventus (3-5-2) Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Rugani; Alex Sandro, Pogba, Marchisio, Khedira, Lichtsteiner; Dybala, Mandzukic
Roma (4-3-3) Szczesny; Digne, Rudiger, Manolas, Torosidis; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Pjanic; Salah, Dzeko, Florenzi
HEAD TO HEAD
Roma have not left Turin victorious in the league against Juventus since January 2010, the hosts having won five of the last six meetings since. The visitors will take a crumb of comfort from the fact they won the first meeting on matchday two in the capital 2-1, thanks to goals from the genial Miralem Pjanic and Dzeko. As mentioned earlier, Juventus are going for their 11th straight league win in a game that has a history of red cards; Roma having picked up five in their last five visits to the home of the champions.
Juventus 1.61 Draw 3.80 Roma 6.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)