Totti's Roma travel to Turin to face Del Piero's Juve
Roma travel to Turin on Sunday evening to attempt to do what no other team in Italy has done so far this season: beat current league leaders Juventus.
The match is shaping up as one of the most anticipated clashes of the year, so much so that tickets sold out in less than 40 minutes when they went on sale on Tuesday. The high demand for this match is clearly understandable given the current position both clubs find themselves in. Juventus are fighting for the Scudetto and currently sit in first place, one point in front of current champions Milan. Roma are still battling for a place in next season’s Champions League and currently lie four points behind third-placed Lazio, in fifth place.
There is no shortage of scripts to write about this one. It is likely to be the last Serie A clash between Italian legends Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero, which should be worth the admission price alone. The latter isn’t likely to start the match for Juventus given he’s only made three appearances from the first minute under Antonio Conte all season. However, he will surely come off the bench as a substitute.
Del Piero will be looking to add to his 187 Serie A goal haul for Juve, while Totti has currently scored 212 Serie A goals for Roma. Roma’s captain is just four goals short of the 216 strikes scored by Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini, both tied third in the list of top Serie A goalscorers of all time.
The match also marks the first time Mirko Vucinic plays against his former club. The enigmatic striker has only scored six goals for Juventus this season and will be keen to add to his tally against the club he departed in the summer.
Both Roma and Juventus come into this clash off last round wins. Roma rebounded from a shock defeat against Lecce to notch an impressive 3-1 win at home to Udinese, while Juventus showed plenty of fight to beat Lazio 2-1, with a late Del Piero free kick the difference. Both teams have had a prolonged rest due to the tragic death of Livorno’s Piermario Morosini resulting in all week 33 fixtures being postponed.
Juventus will be licking their lips at Roma’s away form this season. Luis Enrique’s men have won just five games away from home, with two draws and a poor nine losses. They’ll need a dramatic improvement if they are to take a positive result away from Turin. In away fixtures this season, Roma have only scored 18 goals but conceded 26.
Roma will once again be missing the services of Nicolas Burdisso, Juan, Marco Cassetti and second choice goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont. First choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg missed a training session this week due to a mild bout of the flu, but should be right to take his place on Sunday.
Daniele De Rossi is likely to be moved back to his regular midfield role, with Gabriel Heinze set to return after being dropped against Udinese. He will take his place alongside Simon Kjaer in the backline. Rodrigo Taddei is likely to start at fullback, with the choice between Jose Angel at left back or Aleandro Rosi on the right the only real dilemma for Enrique in defense.
Fabio Borini is set to return from a three week layoff due to a hamstring injury. He is likely to start from the bench, with Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Erik Lamela the most likely candidates to join Totti up-front. The impressive form of Brazilian midfielder Marquinho should see him start alongside De Rossi and Miralem Pjanic in midfield, with Fernando Gago dropping back to the bench.
Where it will be won
The key for Roma will be remaining tight defensively, but this ultimately comes down to the sides discipline with the ball. Giving away possession cheaply will play right into Juventus’ hands and make it easy for them to counterattack.
Who matters most: Roma
Roma will rely heavily on Daniele De Rossi to dictate the tempo of the match from his deep-lying midfield position. When De Rossi plays well Roma usually play well and this clash isn’t going to be any different.
Who matters most: Juventus
He isn’t likely to start the match, but Alessandro Del Piero could be decisive if he gets a chance. Del Piero has already scored against Roma in the Coppa Italia this season, while his other goals this term have impressively come against Milan, Inter and Lazio, all quality opposition.
Possible Roma line-up
Possible Juventus line-up
(3-5-2) Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Pepe, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Lichtsteiner; Quagliarella, Vucinic
Roma Journal prediction
It’s hard to see anything other than a Juventus win here given Roma’s away form this season. However, Roma proved they can more than match it with Juve in the first round fixture this season and they should be confident of taking at least a point back home. 1-1 draw with Totti and Del Piero the scorers.