Verdict: Total goals under 2.5
Best odds: 4/5
Juventus are set to welcome AS Roma to the Allianz Stadium in Turin in one of the bigger clashes of the third round of the season in the Serie A, as both teams seek to be a part of the conversations about the top-end of the table right down to the end of the campaign.
Until a few years ago the barely disputed dominant force in Italian football, Juventus have been taken off that throne first by one and then the other club from Milan, and it’s undoubtedly their aim to retake the crown as soon as possible. Last time out, they finished fourth, whole 16 points behind champions AC Milan, 14 behind Inter, and nine behind Napoli. Though they probably should be happy that they’ve at least managed to secure a place in the Champions League, it’s not what a club of this magnitude wants as its main aim.
There have been some notable changes to the playing personnel at the club. Paulo Dybala has left as a free agent and as he now plays for Roma, this is a chance for an emotional reunion with some of his former teammates, and it will surely be interesting to see the welcome he receives from the stands of the stadium where he spent seven years.
Defenders Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich) and Merih Demiral (Atalanta) have also gone, as has winger Federico Bernardeschi (Toronto). Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini has left to join Los Angeles FC.
On the other hand, Paul Pogba has returned as a free agent after six years with Manchester United, Angel Di Maria has come in from Paris Saint-Germain, centre-back Gleison Bremer moved across town from Torino, and Filip Kostic has joined from Eintracht Frankfurt.
In the first two rounds, Massimiliano Allegri’s team beat Sassuolo 3-0 at home with Di Maria and Dusan Vlahovic (twice) on target, and played a goalless draw away to Sampdoria last week.
As things stand at the moment, Mattia Perin is set to continue between the posts in the absence of Wojciech Szczesny, though the Poland international should be back in action soon.
Winger Federico Chiesa has been out of action through an ACL rupture since the start of the year, and he won’t be back before October. Di Maria has had some muscle issues, but he’s expected to be ready by Saturday.
Jose Mourinho has enjoyed a fine start to his tenure at Roma, leading the team to become the first ever winners of the Europa Conference League. With the Champions League and the Europa League triumphs already on his CV, the controversial Portuguese tactician is obviously the only man in history at the moment to have completed the set.
Speaking of Mourinho, it will be interesting to see how warmly (or otherwise) he greets Pogba, whom he took to Manchester United in 2016 for around €100 million and with whom he fell out rather quickly.
By winning the Conference League Roma secured a place in the Europa League for this season, though that would’ve happened anyway as they finished sixth in the Serie A table. This time around, they’ll have set their sights higher and be looking to finish inside the top four, which would have them playing in the Champions League next season.
Apart from Dybala, Roma signed Nemanja Matic, with whom Mourinho worked previously at Chelsea and Manchester United, goalkeeper Mile Svilar from Benfica, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum on loan from PSG, and right-back Zeki Celik from LOSC Lille.
Meanwhile, attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has gone to Inter, midfielder Jordan Veretout has gone to Olympique Marseille, along with winger Cengiz Under whose loan from last season has been made permanent, as has the one of right-back Alessandro Florenzi to AC Milan.
Roma started the season with two one-goal triumphs, 0-1 away to Salernitana and 1-0 at home against Cremonese, with Bryan Cristante and Chris Smalling the goalscorers in those matches.
Things haven’t been going well at all for Wijnaldum since he left Liverpool in 2021. The experienced Dutch midfielder couldn’t establish himself properly at PSG, and his spell in Rome has began with a tibia fracture which will be keeping him out of action for some time.
Attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo is also out, though he’s expected back from his shoulder injury in mid-September.
Neither side is expected to play too rashly in this game, particularly the visitors with Mourinho likely to try to shut the door as only Mourinho can. One goal in either net could prove enough to decide the winner.
Verdict: Total goals under 2.5
Best odds: 4/5
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