Roma host Juventus on Sunday night at the Stadio Olimpico. The visitors sit seventh in the Serie A table after their 15-point deduction but would be on 50 points and in second place. Instead, they’re 10 points off the top four. Jose Mourinho’s sides are one point outside the top four but just three points off second place in a tight battle for Champions League qualification.
Mourinho’s side have been inconsistent all season in the league. Three finally strung together a three-match winning run in October but a run of two losses and two draws in five matches followed, prior to the World Cup break. Those defeats were at home to Champions-elect, Napoli and arch-rivals, Lazio.
After the resumption, they looked more consistent with just one loss in eight in the league, again to a superb Napoli side in Naples. After a 1-0 first-leg loss in the Europa League at Salzburg, they beat Verona 1-0 and then beat Salzburg 2-0 at home to progress to the last 16, 2-1 on aggregate. There was a weekend post-Europe hangover as they were beaten 2-1 at Cremonese. An 83rd-minute penalty proved the difference. Jose Mourinho was sent off yet again.
Roma Team News
Roma have close to a fully-fit squad. Ebrima Darboe misses out in midfield due to a knee injury but everyone else is available. The coach could make some changes with Tammy Abraham expected to return to the XI in preference to Andrea Belotti.
In midfield, Gini Wijnaldum is finally starting matches again after his long injury. For this one, Nemanja Matic could be preferred alongside Bryan Cristante. Rick Karsdorp is pushing to start at right wingback and Chris Smalling is set to return after being rested for the last match.
This is a massive match for the club. They need to win or they could drop further from the top four places and let Juventus back into the race.
They host Real Sociedad on Thursday night in the Europa League but all attention should go to this match. They’ve had a full week to recover and prepare and will play to win.
Juve have been in really good form of late, having had a terrible start to their season. Were it not for their 15-point penalty, they’d sit second in Serie A with 50 points. They’re into the Coppa Italia semi-finals and progressed into the Europa League last 16 too. They had a golden run in the league between October and early January with eight successive wins, all with clean sheets.
That streak was ended by a 5-1 humiliation at Napoli, which dented my confidence for a couple of weeks. A 3-3 home draw against Atalanta followed before losing 2-0 to newly-promoted Monza. The season threatened to implode but Max Allegri has steadied things with six wins in the next seven including beating Nantes 3-1 on aggregate in Europe. They won 3-0 away in the second leg (with a hattrick from Angel Di Maria) and won 4-2 vs Torino in their most recent fixture.
Juventus Team News
Coach Max Allegri has a couple of injuries to deal with as Arkadiusz Milik misses out and Fabio Miretti remains a question mark. Manuel Locatelli is suspended for this match so we may see the first start in months for Paul Pogba after he returned in midweek.
A back three shape could be retained with Dusan Vlahovic up front, with on-form Angel Di Maria behind him. Federico Chiesa is set to feature from the bench unless the shape is changed to a 3-4-3 from a 3-5-1-1.
Juve still have very vague hopes of catching up ten points and finishing in the top four. Failing that, they need to qualify for Europe and will go all out to win this match.
Having said that, they host Freiburg in the Europa League in midweek and that may represent a better route to playing Champions League football next season. They may have one eye on that.
Roma have lost to nil at home vs Atalanta, Napoli, and Lazio this season
Roma have won their last 4 home Serie A matches to nil
Roma have lost 2 of their last 5 league matches
Juventus have seen 14 of their 15 Serie A wins this season with a clean sheet
Juventus have won 6 of their last 7 away matches (Serie A)
Juve’s Di Maria has scored 4 goals in his last 3 matches
This should be a very tight match. Roma have struggled in these ‘big matches’ this season and tends not to score with Mourinho’s pragmatic tactics. Juve are in generally excellent form and are backed to leave Rome with three points.
Best Bet: Both Teams to Score – No at 1.74
Value Bet: Juventus win at 2.80
Multiplier Leg: Juventus win/draw double chance + under 3.5 goals at 1.90