Paulo Dybala will return to his old hunting ground when AS Roma take on Juventus in an early Serie A six-pointer between two potential title challengers.

A resurgent AS Roma will travel to the Allianz Arena to take on Juventus in what could be an early preview of what the season holds for the two Italian heavyweights.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival has triggered new belief in the visiting outfit, and they have strengthened in the summer since winning the UEFA Europa Conference League last season. Roma have won their first two games of the season and are just one of three teams with a 100 per cent record in Serie A this season.

The same cannot be said of Juventus who have failed to hit the same heights in Massimiliano Allegri’s second coming. They endured a trophyless season last time out, their first for 11 years and have shown little signs of improvement this season.

The Bianconeri kick-started their campaign with a rather flattering 3-0 win over Sassuolo before being held to a 0-0 draw against Sampdoria. Despite remaining undefeated, the Italian giants have not been convincing and are there for the taking should opponents take them head-on. Juventus also have several players ruled out injured, making their unenviable task even harder.

That will likely be the case when Jose Mourinho’s men roll into Turin on Saturday night. The Portuguese manager is a master tactician who sets his sides up to frustrate. Given the reinforcements he brought in this summer, Roma have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about coming away with a win.

The game will also be an easy return for Paulo Dybala, who was given a tear-jerking farewell last season. The Argentine has settled in well at Roma and should be keen to put his former employers to the sword. Both teams are led by master tacticians, and it could prove to be a chess match with fine margins deciding the outcome. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Juventus

Juventus have picked up four points from their first two games. While it is not a bad return, it does largely mask the nature of their performances. Massimiliano Allegri’s men have struggled to impose themselves against admittedly inferior opposition and have shown too many weaknesses that a better team could exploit.

They are also hit by injuries to several players, tweaking Allegri’s ability to pick his best XI. Juventus will be without star summer signing Paul Pogba and ace winger Federico Chiesa. Speaking in his pre-match presser, Allegri confirmed that Leandro Bonucci and Angel Di Maria will also miss out. The former is not yet completely fit, while the aim is to ensure that the latter is ready to face Fiorentina in September.

Wojciech Szczesny could be back but is unlikely to displace Mattia Perin from the starting XI. The Italian shot-stopper has been a reliable presence for the Bianconeri this season, and given his good form, it makes little sense for Allegri to relegate him to the bench. He will start behind a back four of Danilo, Daniele Rugani, Gleison Bremer and Mattia De Sciglio. Alex Sandro was poor against Sampdoria and is likely to be dropped to the bench.

Allegri appears likely to ring in the changes in midfield, and youngster Fabio Miretti could replace Weston McKennie in the starting XI. Manuel Locatelli is likely to keep his spot, while Adrien Rabiot will start on the left-hand side. Miretti’s presence will give Juventus more impetus going forward with the youngster’s vision and passing range crafting opportunities for the strikers.

Filip Kostic was impressive on his full debut against Sampdoria and is certain to hold onto his starting XI spot. Juan Cuadrado will occupy the other flank with Dusan Vlahovic leading the line. New signing Arkadiusz Milik is likely to start on the bench and could come on if needed. His availability will allow Allegri to shift to a 4-4-2 if needed. Given how Vlahovic was isolated from service last time out, it makes sense for the Juventus manager to shift his tactics around.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Perin, Danilo, Rugani, Bremer, De Sciglio; Miretti, Locatelli, Rabiot; Cuadrado, Kostic; Vlahovic

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AS Roma

AS Roma arrive at the Allianz Stadium as just one of the three sides with a 100 per cent record in Serie A. Jose Mourinho’s men are yet to hit their stride but have shown the knack to get results when it matters. They lost both league games to Juventus last season but are today a much-changed side that is also more formidable to boot.

A win in Turin will certainly place the Milan clubs on alert as the Scudetto race begins to take shape. Mourinho will be without UEFA Conference League hero Nicolo Zaniolo and former Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum. While their presence will be missed, Roma does have plenty of other names to call upon.

The Capital side are likely to deploy in a 3-4-2-1 formation that will cater to their strengths. It also gives Mourinho a crowded midfield that can outnumber Juventus to establish dominance in the middle of the park. That could set the tone for the visitors to dictate the pace of the game and frustrate their hosts into making errors.

Rui Patricio will start in goal behind a back three of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Ibanez. They will be flanked by Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp, both of whom will be tasked with dominating their flank. Keeping Kostic and Cuadrado quiet should cut off the supply to Vlahovic, starving the clinical Serbian striker of goalscoring opportunities.

The pivot of Bryan Cristante and Nemanja Matic will be tasked with keeping Miretti quiet and stunting Locatelli’s efforts to act as a playmaker. This should give AS Roma a solid foundation that their attacking players can then exploit.

Former Juventus attacker Dybala will be tasked with linking the midfield to the attack. He will function alongside Lorenzo Pellegrini, with the duo playing behind Tammy Abraham. The former Chelsea striker will be the target man on the night and should free up space for Dybala to run into. The Argentine could score his first goal for AS Roma, and there is no better site than the Allianz Stadium for him to break the duck.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdop, Cristante, Matic; Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Dybala; Abraham

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Key Stats

  • Juventus have won 85 of their 176 games against Roma in Serie A. This is the highest number of victories they have had over one opponent in the Italian top flight. Juventus have won the last three league clashes between the two sides, and a victory on Saturday will see them make it four in a row for the first time since 2009.
  • Juventus have not lost to AS Roma at the Allianz Stadium. They have won 10 of the 11 games played against the Giallorossi at the venue.
  • A win on the night will see Juventus win their first two home games of the Serie A season for the first time since 2019/20.
  • Juventus have not conceded a goal yet in Serie A this season. Another shutout on the night will see them put up three clean sheets in their first three games for the first time since 2014/15.
  • AS Roma have lost just two of their last 19 Serie A games. AS Roma have failed to score away to Juventus six times in their last eight visits.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

A golden opportunity to remind Juventus of their loss. (Photo by Wagner Meier/Getty Images)
A golden opportunity to remind Juventus of their loss. (Photo by Wagner Meier/Getty Images)

Dybala, when in full flow, was a joy to behold at Juventus. The Argentine international joined AS Roma on a free transfer in the summer and is quickly making himself at home in Jose Mourinho’s outfit. Capable of being a goalscorer and a creator, Juventus will struggle to pin down their former hero on the night.

The move to Stadio Olimpico appears to have handed the 28-year-old a new lease of life, and that could come back to haunt Allegri and co this Saturday. Dybala’s presence should see AS Roma link up well in attack, setting up Tammy Abraham to find the back of the net. Should the duo get going, Juventus could be in for a tough night.

There is no better place than the Allianz Stadium for Dybala to open his goalscoring account for Roma. Whether that is something written in the stars remains to be seen. The Argentine attacker could very well land a severe knockout blow for his former side in the Serie A title race.

Prediction

Juventus 1-2 AS Roma

Juventus are there for the taking, and in Jose Mourinho, AS Roma have just the manager to do that. The visitors have also improved from last season and have added quality in key areas. With several players out injured, Juventus are far from their best and could be overwhelmed should Roma take the game to them.

The match is likely to be hard fought, and on paper, Roma’s better form and cohesion should prevail. A Paulo Dybala goal to help break the Giallorossi’s Allianz Stadium hoodoo would be a headline to witness. It will also send a clear message to Inter Milan and AC Milan that Mourinho’s Roma are the real deal.

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