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Written By Onyeka Daniel

At the Stadio Olimpico, it will be Roma against Juventus in the 35th round of matches in the Italian Serie A with referee, Andrea Colombo in charge of proceedings from the centre as both teams continue their quest to clinch a place in next season’s revamped UEFA Champions League.

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For the Giallorossi, they were rather unlucky against Bayer Leverkusen, as they fell to a 2-0 first leg home defeat in their UEFA Europa League semi-final. With their prospects in that competition now looking bleak, their best route into next season’s UCL appears to be by finishing in one of Serie A’s top five spots – something they currently hold but are facing stern competition for.

With nearest rivals Atalanta holding a game in hand, it means they can ill afford any slip ups, especially against a Juventus side that has been largely unconvincing lately. For their manager, Daniele De Rossi, who recently signed a longer contract, he will want to lead his side to an all-important top-five finish in Serie A.


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But there’s one huge record going against him, in games between Italy’s top five this season, Roma have not picked up a single point, losing seven from seven so far. For the away side, following a 1-0 victory in December’s reverse fixture, they have won four of their last six Serie A matches against Roma – keeping a clean sheet in half – so they will have a psychological advantage heading into this encounter.

The Bianconeri are now only six points above their hosts in the table. But, having drawn each of their last three matches – versus Torino, Cagliari and, most recently, AC Milan, Massimiliano Allegri’s team are now glancing nervously over their shoulders at the teams below them. Another worrying sign is that they’ve won just two of their last 13 league games.

For this game, they need a win to secure UCL football, but they haven’t won any of their last six Serie A games away from home and having conceded first in five of those games, they’ve become accustomed to slow starts of late. They have averaged just 1.27 points in the second half of this season – their worst such rate since 2010, so it’s only natural that there’s uncertainty over the future of their manager.

Style Of Play

For De Rossi, he will play the 4-3-3 formation as expected and will probably select his best possible lineup for this encounter despite the fact that they still have the second leg against Bayer Leverkusen to salvage their European dreams, but with everything at stake, now is not the time to try something new, unless it’s absolutely necessary. For Allegri, he’s probably going to stick with the 3-5-2 formation. This will become necessary as Kenan Yildiz is out, so it will be Vlahovic and Chiesa upfront while Arkadiusz Milik will be an option front the bench.

Recent Form

For the home side, they’ve 12 wins in last 20 matches played across all competitions, 4 draws and 4 losses too. They will be hoping to snap out of a 2 games without a win streak (Napoli draw and loss to Leverkusen). For the away side, they’ve 8 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses in the same number of games played. They’ve failed to win in their last four games and are in a tight race to retain their 3rd position on the table as Bologna and Roma close in on them.

Head To Head

In their last 20 games played against each other, Juventus have the edge with 11 wins while Roma have 5 wins with 4 ended in a draw. Last season, Roma were able to get four points from Juve, while in the first leg this season, the Bianconeri won at the Allianz Stadium and will be hoping to at least do the same to the Giallorossi as they did last season or even go better by beating them home and away.

Players To Watch

Romelu Lukaku should be leading the attack with assist from the likes of Paulo Dybala, Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini. For Juve, they will be looking to their top scorer, Dusan Vlahovic for goals while the likes of Federico Chiesa, Adrien Rabiot and Weston McKennie will be tasked with providing the assist.

Roma Possible Starting Lineup: Svilar; Celik, Mancini, Ndicka, Angelino; Cristante, Paredes, Pellegrini; Dybala, Lukaku, El Shaarawy

Juventus Possible Starting Lineup: Szczesny; Gatti, Bremer, Danilo; Cambiaso, McKennie, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Chiesa, Vlahovic

Read Also: How The UEFA Champions League Will Look Like For Next Season And Beyond

Injuries And Suspensions

For the home side, they’ve no injury case to worry about, so the manager should have a full squad to pick from, unlike the away side that will have the trio of Kenan Yildiz, Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro (injury) join the suspended duo of Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli to miss this match.

Verdict

From the look of things, it’s probably going to be a draw match as both teams look to stay in the top five race or a win for the home side if they’re able to take their chances upfront, especially for Lukaku and Tammy Abraham. (0-0 or 1-1).

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