Red-hot Juventus have now closed the gap behind leaders Napoli to mere two points and no doubts they are in a good position to extend the impressive run against AS Roma. The Giallorossi have recorded just one win in last eight matches on all fronts, meaning new coach Luciano Spalletti will have to produce some magic if his side are to avoid defeat in Turin.
Juventus experienced plenty of problems in the opening exchanges as the squad rebuilding process lasted longer than expected, but the team started raising their form from September and are now back to their best. The Bianconeri closed the serious gap behind their title rivals in Italian Serie A in no time, while progressing from a very difficult Champions League group, although they were quite unfortuate to be pitted against mighty Bayern Munich in the Last 16 stage. Max Allegri’s side have been relentless of late, winning last seven games in all competitions, as well as 12 of last 13, with victories over Torino and Lazio seeing them make it to Coppa Italia semi-finals. And while the likes of Mandzukic, Dybala, Pogba and Zaza are scoring goals for fun, the back line has shown a great deal of improvement after a shaky start, with Juventus keeping eight clean sheets in last twelve matches. And even though AS Roma will be keen to end the barren run in Turin, we cannot see that happening.
Max Allegri welcomes back Andrea Barzagli from injury, whereas Mario Mandzukic, Gianluigi Buffon and Paulo Dybala will be recalled to the side.
Midfielders Roberto Pereyra and Mario Lemina miss out through muscle and knee injuries respectively, while Patrice Evra should be preferred to Alex Sandro.
AS Roma management have been working hard in an attempt to build a squad capable of ending a 15-year wait for the Serie A title, but their efforts have yet to produce results. After failing to live up to the billing, Rudi Garcia was sacked to make way for Luciano Spalletti, who hadn’t exactly seen a great deal of success during his first spell at Stadio Olimpico (2005-2009). The final week of the January transfer window will be quite busy for the Giallorossi, who are expected to recruit Stephan El Shaarawy, a central defender and a midfielder, with several players also expected to leave. The new coach debuted with a 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona, where his side failed to hold on to a one-goal lead, proving they still suffer from the lack of confidence. And while his charges dominated the encounter, another home slip-up was not exactly what AS Roma need at the moment, and Spalletti will now attempt to match Juventus by switching to 3-5-2 formation, with Daniele De Rossi expected to start in the heart of defence.
Seydou Keita and Vasilis Torosidis are both back in contention, but Gervinho, Salih Ucan, Kevin Strootman and Ezequiel Ponce continue to miss out.
Alessandro Florenzi should start in the middle of the park, while Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah are likely to form the attacking partnership.
Key Factors to Consider
- Juventus won last five home games vs Roma (17:3)
- Both teams scored in each of last three mettings between the two sides
- Juventus are on a seven-match winning run
- The Bianconeri kept 8 clean sheets in last 12 games
- AS Roma are winless in last six away matches (D4 L2)
Juventus have largely dominated past meetings with AS Roma, winning last five games in style and no doubt they are now on top of their game, unlike the Giallorossi, who are winless in last six on the road. With that in mind, we are backing the champions to prove who’s the boss in Italy.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 4/6
Bookmaker: William Hill