AS Roma will look to hand Juventus their first domestic defeat of the season when they travel to the Allianz Stadium as part of the 17th Serie A matchday.
Juventus managed to top their Champions League group, despite losing on two occasions, especially with Manchester United failing to take advantage of the Matchday Six defeat against Young Boys. As far as Serie A is concerned, Juventus are cruising at the moment, with eight points the buffer between them and second-placed Napoli.
Their last two victories though, do create some room for an upset, with Juventus only managing 1-0 wins over Inter Milan and Torino. AS Roma, on the other hand, seem to be finally hitting their stride after almost three months of inconsistent results.
With three fixtures before the turn of the year, AS Roma could ideally jump into the top four with a good showing in the festive period. For Juventus, it will be a case of trying to maintain their undefeated domestic streak going into 2019.
Their last meeting at the Allianz stadium ended in a 1-0 defeat for AS Roma, a scoreline that could be in line with the recent trend that Juventus have established. We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Juan Cuadrado and Andrea Barzagli are currently sidelined with their respective injury issues. Joao Cancelo has joined them, with the Portuguese set to miss the festive period.
While the remainder of the back four is likely to remain the same, Massimiliano Allegri will have to field Mattia De Sciglio on the right side of the back four, with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro rounding out the defence.
Allegri would love to be more dominant in the victories and could choose to field a fluid 4-3-3 instead of the 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2. Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic are destined to start. But, the last spot could go to Rodrigo Bentancur, who has been preferred over the likes of Emre Can and Sami Khedira recently.
In attack, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo are guaranteed to start. But, the last spot is up for grabs, with Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa all contenders. With the AS Roma fixture being an important one, we could see Dybala get the nod over the others, who are likely to come in for the next match.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Ronaldo, Mandzukic
Stephan El Shaarawy, Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini are still nursing their respective injuries and will play no part against Juventus. Edin Dzeko though, has managed to recover and will be available for Saturday.
Robin Olsen has been the undisputed first-choice in goal and will continue there. Alessandro Florenzi, Federico Fazio, Kostas Manolas and Aleksandar Kolarov will make up the back four for AS Roma against Juventus.
The double pivot in the 4-2-3-1 is likely to be entrusted in the hands of Bryan Cristante, who has been a bright spot for AS Roma, along with Steven N’Zonzi. AS Roma will be missing the services of De Rossi and Pellegrini though.
The attack is loaded with options for AS Roma. Of the many choices, Justin Kluivert has hit a stride of form that is likely to see him being picked for the left side of the three-man attacking midfield, with Cengiz Under likely to be on the right.
Stephan El Shaarawy’s absence has seen Nicolo Zaniolo being given a chance and the 19-year-old has impressed so far. But, Eusebio Di Francesco could go for experience against Juventus, meaning Javier Pastore could be given a chance in the number 10 role. Dzeko is back and should start against Juventus on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Olsen; Florenzi, Fazio, Manolas, Kolarov; N’Zonzi, Cristante; Under, Pastore, Kluivert; Dzeko
1. AS Roma has failed to score in four of their last five away matches in Serie A against Juventus.
2. The last three Serie A matches between Juventus and AS Roma at the Allianz Stadium have ended with a 1-0 win for the home side.
3. Juventus have kept a clean sheet in each of their last five league matches.
4. AS Roma have had 14 different scorers in Serie A while Juventus have had just 11.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored or assisted in 12 of his last 13 Serie A appearances for Juventus.
Player to Watch
It has often become cliche to say that the opposition goalkeeper in case of matches against top teams like Juventus are the players to keep an eye on. But, Robin Olsen is the man to watch for a couple of additional reasons. For one, Olsen had a stellar World Cup, but has not been able to reprise the same kind of form at club level for AS Roma this season.
Against a Juventus side that has now the added attacking impetus of Cristiano Ronaldo to aid their cause, Olsen could be the answer for AS Roma. Without a clean sheet in his last seven Serie A games, Robin Olsen will be keen to get shutouts under his belt. One against Juventus could just be the kick he needs.
Juventus 2-2 AS Roma
The current league leaders might be in a league of their own. But, AS Roma have a decent head-to-head record in recent times, with Juventus not managing big wins over the away side. Saturday is expected to be a scoring affair, though, unlike the recent matches.
AS Roma have become masters of the trade as far as draws are concerned and are unlikely to give in to Juventus. We expect Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Under to be able to open up the home side’s defence. On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic are in form and that could spell trouble for AS Roma.
Juventus might be favourites and we would give them a slight edge, with our choice being a 2-2 draw.