Two of Italy’s biggest clubs lock horns on Sunday evening, with Juventus hosting AS Roma in a very important clash at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus fans will be hoping their team kick into another gear for this weekend’s late clash against Roma. The Bianconeri have utterly struggled for form this season; however, their performances in the last two games in all competitions provides some confidence heading into the late weekend clash with Roma.
The more baffling point has been Juventus’ ability to allow opposition teams to score against them. From their dismal performances from last season until now, they probably conceded a goal in each of their previous 20-league games, while their clean sheet against Torino in the last matchday only stopped the run converted into a record 21-games of conceding.
Their defence faltered under Andrea Pirlo, although this trend continued under Massimiliano Allegri, who had proven to be a defensively astute headmaster in his first stint. Interestingly, they brought back the stability of the old against Chelsea in the Champions League, beating the holders by a slender margin and managing a clean sheet.
Allegri will be hoping the results from the last two fixtures might pump up his side to get grips on the domestic season. They already trail leaders Napoli by 10-points and their weekend opponents by four. These gaps put Juventus into a territory they have rarely experienced under their manager, and he would certainly want to correct this.
The visitors, AS Roma, have been in sensational form since the start of the season. Despite some difficult results, particularly the loss to city rivals Lazio, Jose Mourinho will be eager to test his team against the formidable Juventus.
Mourinho’s side has performed admirably, although trail the flawless Napoli by 6-points, while also behind the Milan clubs. This gap may not be of immediate concern for the manager, who wants his team to put a concentrated effort to be in the mix for the title.
Like Juventus, Roma are boosted by recent victories in the Conference League and in the league against Empoli during the last matchday. Mourinho would like to build more in these results and ensure his squad come out of their blocks to test themselves against the challenging Bianconeri. A win at the Allianz Arena could prove a catalyst for a title challenge from here on.
Team News & Tactics
Allegri will have to tinker with his squad for the best results, as he faces a dilemma over his starting front three. Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala are doubtful for this game, although they are still in line for a late assessment. If either of them misses, Moise Kean will be asked to deputise again, as he did against Torino.
In support of the young Italian striker, Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi will form the front three. If Allegri decides to shuffle his front line further, he has the options with Dejan Kulusevski and Kaio Jorge, who are fit again for selection.
Alternatively, Allegri could shun the idea of a front three and adapt a traditional 4-4-2 to keep a balanced style of play and accommodate Juan Cuadrado better from the right wide position. Bernardeschi could be moved to a wide left position, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Manuel Locatelli could hold the midfield areas.
Giorgio Chiellini will likely miss out against Roma, meaning Matthijs de Ligt will partner with Leonardo Bonucci in central defence. Wojciech Szczesny will play in goal, while Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro will support from fullback positions.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2) – Szczesny; Sciglio, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentacur, Locatelli, Bernardeschi; Chiesa, Kean
The big concern for Mourinho would be the potential absence of striker Tammy Abraham who suffered an ankle knock against Andorra while on international duty. Reports suggest a late assessment will likely be conducted, although it could mostly rule him out. Uzbeki forward Eldor Shomurodov is expected to start and lead the line.
Chris Smalling remains out with a thigh problem and will likely be unavailable for another fortnight. The latter might get the nod to participate and partner Gianluca Mancini in central defence. Ricardo Calafiori and Rick Karsdorp are expected to take up the fullback positions.
In central midfield, Mourinho will likely stick with the partnership and double pivot offered by Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout.
This season, Mourinho is also impressed by Nicolo Zaniolo and could hand him a start on the wide-area on the right. Lorenzo Pellegrini will play as a traditional no.10 for Roma, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan will continue to be deployed on the left side of the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Calafiori; Cristante, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Shomurodov
- Juventus have won 11 out of the last 12-home games against Roma in Serie A
- Roma lost 9-away league games in 2021; the last time they lost 10 was in 2012.
- Max Allegri has the lowest win percentage in Serie A against Roma at 35%.
- Roma have conceded at least 2-goals in 9 of their last 10-away games in Serie A.
- Roma have scored at least 2-goals in 8 of their last 9-matches in Serie A.
Player to Watch
A striker’s position is the most difficult one, a statement that could be debated, although it certainly is the most rewarding. When a forward scores a goal, his bad performances throughout the game until that point is quickly forgotten, and goals make fans remember players, particularly frontmen.
Moise Kean has this great opportunity to become a household name for Juventus fans. The potential absences of Morata and Dybala opens the door for the former Everton man to stake a claim at one of the available spots and play regularly. Watch out for the young Italian striker, who is generally a clinical forward.
Juventus 1-0 AS Roma
The titanic clash has all the hallmarks of a traditional, cagey Italian derby that produces fewer chances and more stubborn play. Mourinho is well-known to field ultra-defensive units to prevent the opposition from attacking, while Allegri likes his players to attack. The writing is on the wall for a very low scoring game.
Considering the form of both sides, a stalemate might be the correct prediction, but given Juventus’ somewhat superior firepower, they might nick it eventually. We expect the Bianconeri to narrowly beat Mourinho’s men at the Allianz Stadium, allowing the Romans to continue being awful away from home.
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