Roma’s start to the Serie A season has been inconsistent. Their progress has been repeatedly halted by an apparent inability to string more than two wins together at a time.
For Juventus, it has been entirely the opposite. Max Allegri’s side are running away with the Scudetto, and it does not look like they intend to slow down any time soon.
The two sides meet in Turin on Saturday with a gap of 22 points separating them. To put that into context: Roma are closer to bottom-of-the-league Chievo than they are to Juventus.
The odds, then, are firmly stacked against Eusebio Di Francesco’s side. Juventus have dropped points only once this season. That was a home draw against lowly Genoa, which might give Roma some hope. But there is a feeling that they will need things to go heavily in their favour to replicate that achievement.
Juventus, after their 1-0 victory over Torino in the Derby della Mole on Saturday, are eight points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A. They are on a run of seven successive league wins. And they have not conceded in their last five.
The Bianconeri are in imperious form and Roma will, no doubt, be fully aware of the task they face. This is a Juventus team with an almost impenetrable defence, a team that boasts the likes of Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack.
Roma cannot boast such quality, but on their day they are certainly capable of an upset. They won their last game, a 3-2 victory over Genoa, and climbed to sixth in the standings. Before that, though, there were two 2-2 draws – against Inter and Cagliari – and a 1-0 defeat at Udinese.
Clean sheets have been rare, and Roma’s defensive deficiencies will be a concern ahead of their trip to Juventus. They must hope that they have enough in attack to trouble Allegri’s league leaders.
Di Francesco has alternated between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-3 this season, although he went with the latter in Roma’s last game, the 3-2 win over Genoa.
He may opt to stick with that in an attempt to frustrate Juventus. Roma cannot afford to be open and expansive; they will be picked off by Juventus if they are. The key for the Giallorossi will be to keep things compact and strike on the counter attack. Juventus, though, are unerringly accomplished at preventing that.
Allegri will stick with the 4-3-3 that has proved so effective this season, with the fluid front three of Dybala, Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic given the freedom to roam.
Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi will provide energy and creativity from midfield, while centre back pairing Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will look to keep their tenth clean sheet of the Serie A season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus: It took a bit of time for Ronaldo to get going at Juventus – perhaps a gentle period of transition after years spent with Real Madrid – but now he is firmly in his stride in Italy.
He has six goals in his last ten games in all competitions, and many of them have been the deciding goal. Against Torino on Saturday, he scored the crucial penalty to give his side three points. It would not be a surprise if were to make the difference when Roma come to town.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Roma: Roma’s marauding full back has been a standout performer so far this season. At 33, he is still capable of getting up and down the flank for 90 minutes, and offers a real goal threat in the final third.
Kolarov has scored four goals and provided two assists in Serie A. Against Juventus, though, he will need to be on his game defensively and offensively.
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