Juventus vs Roma: Juventus head into Saturday’s Serie A showdown with Roma holding an eight-point cushion at the top of the standings.
Roma have only lost one of their last seven outings in the league, but Eusebio Di Francesco‘s side remain off the pace in the table and sit in seventh position.
Juventus have remained as the standout team in Italian football over the last four months, and it will take a catastrophic loss of form for Massimiliano Allegri‘s team to fail to win the club’s eighth successive title.
However, it could be argued that Juve have failed to hit top gear this season and although professional wins are being recorded on a weekly basis, Allegri will be demanding an extra spark in the final third.
Juventus recorded their fifth successive clean sheet in Serie A against Torino last weekend, but it took a second-half penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo to get the better of their city rivals.
Allegri’s side deserve credit for coming through a hard-fought contest with maximum points, but their failure to find their best form going forward was not a one-off occurrence and an improvement in that area will be Allegri’s Christmas wish.
Juventus still possess the joint-best attacking record in the division with 33 goals from 16 games, but they have not scored four or more goals in a league contest since doing so at Benevento in April.
Over half of Juventus’ goals have come through Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic, and no other player in the squad has contributed more than two goals in Serie A.
The flipside to a lack of emphatic wins is Allegri being able to rotate his squad and use as many as 23 players this season while still prevailing in all but one of their top-flight outings since the middle of August.
Using his squad in such a way will only benefit Juventus over a busy seven days which includes three matches, and it may prove to be the difference in maintaining hope of producing an unbeaten domestic campaign.
Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLW
Roma are not encountering the same issues as Juventus when it comes to goals, but Di Francesco continues to fight to keep his job at the Stadio Olimpico having endured a poor start to the campaign.
Giallorossi have lost just four of their opening 16 fixtures, but six draws and a struggle to keep clean sheets have resulted in the club sitting eight points adrift of third-placed Inter Milan.
Attempting to achieve fourth place by the end of the campaign appears to be the most realistic target for a side who came within a whisker of reaching last season’s Champions League final, but the club’s hierarchy must decide whether that will be enough for a team who have not built on that memorable period during the start of 2018.
Just two wins have been registered from their last eight outings in the league, and Di Francesco’s team had to come from behind to register a 3-2 success at home to Genoa last weekend.
Di Francesco will hope that the manner of that win can act as the catalyst for an improved run of form over Christmas, and the Italian will feel the same about the contribution of Justin Kluivert who finally netted his first league goal.
The 19-year-old has so far failed to make the transition from Dutch football to Italy’s top flight, but there have been signs over the last two weeks that the prospect is settling into life in Rome.
The likes of Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio must improve at the back, however, with Roma having failed to keep a shutout in any competition since October 23.
That record is undermining Roma’s work going forward but if they can find more of a balance over a period which also includes important games against Sassuolo and Parma, it could move the club closer to their rivals who are placed just above them in the standings.
Recent form: DWLDDW
Recent form (all competitions): LLDDLW
Team News – Juventus vs. Roma
Paulo Dybala has netted just twice during the last seven weeks, but the Argentine could keep his place in the team ahead of Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi.
Rodrigo Bentancur returns after suspension, but Joao Cancelo, Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado are all missing through injury.
Edin Dzeko has been absent for Roma since November 24, but the forward could be ready to make his return at the weekend.
Daniele De Rossi, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy are also battling to be fit for the visit to the defending champions.
Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Mandzukic, Ronaldo
Roma possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Florenzi, Fazio, Manolas, Kolarov; N’Zonzi, Cristante; Under, Zaniolo, Kluivert; Dzeko
Head To Head – Juventus vs. Roma
Roma have had plenty of recent success against Juventus, but it has been nearly nine years since their last league victory in Turin.
The fixture in Turin has ended in a 1-0 win for Juventus on the last three occasions, while Roma held the champions to a goalless draw in May.
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