Two big rivals meet in Serie A this weekend, as Juventus make the trip to the capital. They aren’t heading to Rome for the cup final this weekend, but they are bound for the Olimpico to face the Giallorossi. The champions all but ruined Torino’s chances of making the Champions League last weekend, while they could do the same on Sunday.
Roma need a home win in order to stay in the top four hunt this term. They are three points shy of Atalanta, so they can’t afford to slip up with just three matches remaining. Ahead of this must-win clash for the Giallorossi, we’re looking at the key battles in the weekend’s big clash at the Stadio Olimpico.
We’ve picked out a 26/1 same-game multi on Betfair, which is backed up by the main talking points on this game.
Roma’s Big Game Record
One thing you don’t want ahead of a must-win game is a worrying record behind it. Roma come into this clash in fifth place, but they have a worrying return against the sides around them. In nine meetings with the top six, the Giallorossi have failed to win all season. Last term they were quite similar, winning once against their top four rivals and only one at home to the top eight.
This has been a consistent problem for Roma throughout the reigns of many different managers. Claudio Ranieri may have the experience, but he hasn’t had the time to adjust their mentality. Having topped up their squad with promising young talents in the summer, Roma haven’t exactly made changes that will make them more effective against the very best. Of course, there’s no one in Italy better than Juventus, so it’s a major task for the hosts to keep their top four hopes alive.
Juve’s Poor Form
The one ray of sunshine for Roma is that they’re meeting a Juventus side who are struggling. The champions have got themselves over the line in the league, but this is set to be the most disappointing year in Max Allegri’s reign. This is the first season under him that the club won’t win the league and cup double. Standards are high at Juve, meaning that early exits are seen as a monumental problem.
That’s seemingly had an effect on the side, as Juve’s only win in their last six was a narrow game which wrapped up the title. They’ve seen both teams score in their last seven, which suggests that defensively standards are slipping. With nothing left to focus on this season, it’s no surprise that the players are a little lax. We expect that to allow an opening for a high-scoring Roma outfit, which is why we’ve backed both teams to score in our preview for this game.
The Ronaldo Factor
While Juventus are struggling for focus, Cristiano Ronaldo is the one player who is consistently performing. There is one shocking thing motivating the Portuguese: himself. Ronaldo can still land the Serie A Golden Boot and he’s playing like that’s all he’s focusing on. Juve’s record signing has fallen four goals off the pace, but that’s still do-able for him. He’s been busy in front of goal of late, while he has scored crucial goals against Torino and Inter in the last two to save Juve from defeats.
The champions are now built around Ronaldo in a 4-4-2 formation, which has given him support and puts him closer to goal. That’s likely to give him chances against a Roma defence who are struggling. The hosts have conceded almost 20 goals more than they did over the course of last season, showing how vital Allison was for them in goal. With a big game scoring streak behind him, we’ve backed Ronaldo to score again in this clash. However, you can get a slightly bigger price of 6/4 for Ronaldo to score first for Juve, decent value given he’s the only one really motivated.
Ronaldo obviously offers an aerial threat for Juventus, while Roma have one of the best success rates in aerial duels this season. With both teams effective in the air, set pieces are likely to be very important. These two have also scored the most goals from set pieces this season, with Roma’s 16 strikes narrowly edging out Juve’s tally of 15.
Given those numbers, a high corner count for these two isn’t surprising. The pair are among the top sides in terms of most corners per game. We certainly expect to see a battle at both ends for aerial balls, while Ronaldo will fancy his chances of beating any of the Roma defence in the air. If he can frequently do that, he might just edge the game for the champions.
Juventus Midfield Issues
As we mentioned, Juventus have moved to a 4-4-2, which seems to be for Ronaldo’s benefit. It doe help their midfield issues too – Sami Khedira, Emre Can, Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa are all missing. That has left them with a more makeshift midfield four. That could be an issue on Sunday, as Roma’s five in midfield could win the possession battle.
An overloaded Juventus midfield doesn’t sound great for Rodrigo Bentancur. The highly-rated Uruguayan has big future, but his season he’s had issues against the big teams. The midfielder has been booked eight times in 20 starts, which includes meetings with Napoli, Inter and Atalanta. With 24 bookings across their last six meetings, we’re backing more cards here, with Bentancur a likely culprit.
Roma vs Juventus Same-Game Multi
Our four picks for this clash are over 10.5 corners, over 2.5 goals, Ronaldo to score Juve’s first goal and Bentancur to be booked. As we’ve laid out, history and form point to these being key moments in the game, so we think Betfair’s 26/1 price is great value on that particular bet.