03.04.2011, 18:45 GMT kick-off
An old rivalry will resume on Sunday night when Juventus make the trip to the Eternal City of Rome to face AS Roma. Under new coach Vincenzo Montella, Roma have turned their season around. L’ Aeroplanino has steadied the ship for the Giallorossi, steering them in the right direction; they are unbeaten in Serie A since he took over the reigns from Claudio Ranieri in February. Roma’s last game was an entertaining 2-2 draw against Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi. Francesco Totti netted a brace for the Romans.
Juventus ended a four match winless run against Brescia in Turin in Round 30. Speculation continues to envelop Vinovo over the possible replacement for manager Gigi Del Neri. Everyone from Luciano Spalletti to Louis Van Gaal have been linked to the managerial post at Juve with Del Neri’s sacking in the summer considered a mere formality right now. Realistically, a Champions League spot looks like a tough ask for the Old Lady in what is another disappointing season. In fact the Bianconeri might find a Europa League spot hard to come by as they’re 5 points off the pace of the last European spot.
Roma are in 6th place in the league table with 50 points, 6 shy of a Champions League spot while Juventus sit in 7th position with 45 points, 5 points behind Roma. The last time these two sides met in Turin, Vincenzo Iaquinta scored a wonderful goal for Juve but Francesco Totti equalized for the Giallorossi with a second half penalty. The game ended 1-1.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Since taking over at the helm of Roma, Montella has revived Spalletti’s striker-less formation, and to very good effect. Francesco Totti has been in scintillating form for the Romans in the past two games, bagging two braces each to join an exclusive 200 Serie A goals club. Montella has also brought back Chilean star David Pizarro to the starting line-up. The former Inter man was perpetually ignored by Montella’s predecessor Claudio Ranieri but has performed admirably under Montella’s guidance alongside Daniele De Rossi. Doni will continue in goal in Julio Sergio’s absence, the former is error prone and will need to up his game when he faces the likes of Matri and Krasic.
Nicolas Burdisso will continue out-of-position in his role at right back. The Argentine International has been solid on the right, and although he doesn’t offer much going forward, he will be preferred to Marco Cassetti. Simone Perrotta is the hardworking man in midfield. The 2006 World Cup winner is known for his stamina and his box-to-box abilities, he will offer support to Totti offensively while also perform his defensive duties, making it hard for Juve to dominate the midfield area. Montella will probably order him to stay tight on Aquilani, to minimize the former Roma man’s influence on proceedings and close him down at every oppurtunity.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Doni; Burdisso, Juan, Mexes, Riise; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta, Vucinic; Totti
Form Guide: DWWDW
Rumours emanating from Juventus suggest that Del Neri could drop his standard 4-4-2 formation in favor of a 4-3-3 one against his old side. Indeed, it has been reported, that the mister has used this 4-3-3 formation in training ahead of the Roma game. Del Neri’s new formation will face a stern test at the Olimpico and whether it does pay dividends, only time will tell. Juventus’ weak-point remains the full-back position. Fabio Grosso will reportedly be given the nod to start at left back as Paolo De Ceglie is still recuperating from his knee injury while Traore has been ruled out. While Fredrik Sorensen has had a bright start to his Juventus career, but he is susceptible to lapse in concentration which may cause the Bianconeri dear. However, considering Marco Motta’s horrendous performances in the Bianconeri jersey, fans will be hoping Sorensen starts. He will be up against the pace and trickery of Mirko Vucinic who will fancy chances against the young Dane.
Juve fans will curse their luck as their best defender Giorgio Chiellini has been ruled out for 30 days after suffering a thigh injury during Italy’s match against Ukraine. His injury comes as a huge blow for the Turin giants as Chiellini on ocassions has almost single-handedly held the Juve defence together. His ability to hold strong during the big games will most certainly be missed. Joining him on the treatment table will be Alex Del Piero. The evergreen Juve captain has been rolling back the years over the past few weeks with vintage displays against Cesena and Brescia. His creativity will be missed against the Romans after he suffered a muscle problem.
Other players who will miss the game through injury include Quagliarella, Martinez, Rinaudo, Sissoko, Iaquinta and Traore.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Buffon; Sorensen, Barzagli, Bonucci, Grosso; Aquilani, Melo, Marchisio; Krasic, Matri, Pepe
Form Guide: WDLLL
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Alberto Aquilani (Juventus)
Il Principe will return to his old stomping ground on Sunday night and will look to be at his creative best. He has struggled for form this year but has shown shades of his undeniable quality in recent games. He gives the Juve midfield a completely new dimension with his elegance and composure on the ball. The Bianconeri are reportedly unwilling to splash out the €16million demanded by Liverpool to complete his permanent signing and he will be keen to prove he’s worth every penny for his current team against his old side.
Roma 1-1 Juventus
There’s definitely going to be goals in this encounter; the last goal-less stalemate between these two teams was amazingly nine years ago. Juventus do have Roma’s number, having beaten the Giallorossi on the previous four ocassions at the Olimpico. Vincenzo Montella’s unbeaten run could continue but he will have a tough battle on his hands as Juve will look for continuity. An entertaining draw similar to the one in Turin could be on the cards.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
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