Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
Ahead of Roma’s big trip to Turin, the gap between them and Juventus is bigger than in recent memory. The Giallorossi trail the Old Lady by 22 points, the biggest gap between the two sides since the 2002/03 Serie A campaign. The reigning champions are looking to end 2018 with a string of victories, after moving eight points clear at the top. The Old Lady have a close to perfect record this season, which has them featuring in our latest Serie A betting tips.
This is usually a big top of the table affair, but things are different this time around, Roma are in the middle of a tough campaign. They have all the pressure on them going into Saturday night’s big match, but can they cause a surprise against Juventus? We’re expecting a comfortable night for the Old Lady, especially given Roma’s major issues ahead of this one.
Juventus may have suffered a few high profile slips in the Champions League, but domestically they’ve been brilliant. An almost faultless season has put them clear of Napoli and Inter, two improving sides. The champions have managed to win an incredible 15 of their 16 matches in an unbeaten campaign, as they look to secure an eighth straight Serie A crown. We’ve gone through their tough Christmas period, which starts with Saturday’s game.
The hunger clearly hasn’t left Juve, who are seemingly pushing to seal Serie A before the Champions League’s latter stages. They’re the obvious favourites to walk away with the Scudetto, while they’re aiming to emulate Inter’s famous treble. In that sense, Juve have elevated themselves above the rest of the league in effect, striving for much more than any side around them. That has partly removed the rivalry from a clash like this.
However, it’s not long ago that we talked up the complacency factor. Manchester United managed to take advantage of that back in the Champions League group stage, while Juve did slip up against a poor Genoa side here. It’s easy to praise this Juve side, but it’s not impossible to find faults. An organised side can thrive with a little luck, but it’s just not been that kind of season for Roma so far. The massive gap between these two Italian giants is in part down to the champions making a brilliant start, but it doesn’t end there.
Rome’s Rocky Ground
While Juventus are enjoying an almost perfect season, things are much more difficult in Rome. The Giallorossi managed to take third place last term, along with making the Champions League semis. They’ve regressed this season, with the club sitting outside the top four after a season riddled with inconsistency.
Back in April, Eusebio Di Francesco was the bright young coach to take the club forward. President James Pallotta was basking in their European run, which brought a big sponsorship boost. Four months into the new campaign, fans are turning on all of the club’s hierarchy. A bold summer transfer window saw them lose talent and experience, which they replaced with prospects and gambles.
The Stadio Olimpico has been far from a fortress for the Giallorossi, who are also struggling on the road ahead of this difficult trip. Despite his position as one of Italy’s most promising coaches, right now he’s failing to really deliver. Even last weekend’s 3-2 win over Genoa was fraught with problems, making us doubt Roma’s ability to get a result away to a side with a near perfect record and a side packed with talent.
Luck also hasn’t gone with Roma this season. Injuries have held them back at times, while they’ve taken a hit ahead of this trip. Alessandro Florenzi is a doubt, along with players like Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini. That’s left the club with a mountain to climb and could bring in more young players in a clash with the league’s best side. Gambling on youth seems ambitious, but it looks foolish when you’re sending a makeshift side to Turin, leaving key areas understrength against a side who have an 11 packed with Serie A’s strongest players in each position.
Men Against Boys
The gulf between the pair is clear in attack, where Roma are going with a 4-2-3-1 system as usual. Edin Dzeko is the man they hope to start with up front, given that they’re about to abandon Patrik Schick after his poor spell in the capital. The forward is set to return to Sampdoria after he failed to emerge, which is worrying given the young talents who should support their lone forward this weekend.
Cengiz Under, Justin Kluivert and Nicolo Zaniolo are set to start in the trio behind the goal, all prospects for the future. Against an experienced Juventus defence, that’s going to be a really tall order. So far this season, Roma have failed to create enough chances for Dzeko, who remains their best option up front despite injury woes and his loss of form. On their travels, the Giallorossi have averaged a goal per game, hardly a great record for a side who would have been targeting third.
To make matters worse, Roma have a poor record in Turin, after failing to score in their last three visits here. Recent years have seen them come to Juventus with experienced players in attack. With younger names in forward areas, Roma risk being crowded out of the game away at the best side in the league. Juve are the typical Serie A leader, the side with the best defensive record in the division.
Having moved clear thanks to a solid structure, Juventus also have the ability to move the ball around in midfield and dominate the game. They’re going to outnumber this inconsistent Roma side, who are set to miss a couple of key players at least. With issues plaguing the visitors, it’s hard to see them being the ones to end Juve’s unbeaten start.
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