Both Roma and Juventus go into Sunday’s big match after very different starts to their season – the Giallorossi lost their opening game to an inspired Genoa outfit that came from behind to win 3-2 in a thrilling but controversial game. The Bianconeri, it would be fair to say, comfortably won their opener against Chievo. I Lupi are beset by injuries, are low on confidence and the whole world it seems is against them. In contrast, after gaining the three points a breath of fresh air has swept through the Turin-based outfit – after talks of landing some major silverware has been the theme of the summer.
Juventus have had the edge over Roma in recent seasons, with the Bianconeri coming away with all three points in three of their last four visits to the Stadio Olimpico. The corresponding fixture between these two sides last season ended in a 4-1 away win for the Old Lady – Vincenzo Iaquinta did most of the damage with two goals and Olof Mellberg and Pavel Nedved weighed in with a strike each.
Coach Luciano Spalletti will aim to pair on-loan central defender Nicolas Burdisso with the returning Philippe Mexès. Artur should keep his place in goal if the rumoured transfer to Bari does not materialise. Striker Mirko Vučinić may return to the side after taking part in training this week after a three-week lay-off – if not, Jérémy Menez will continue to deputise. Midfielder Simone Perotta may also be in contention for a starting place if deemed fit. Long-term absentees include the likes of Juan and Max Tonetto.
13 Motta – 5 Mexès – 29 Burdisso – 77 Cassetti
16 De Rossi – 7 Pizarro
21 Guberti – 94 Menez – 11 Taddei
Captain Alessandro Del Piero should return from a back injury which ruled him out against Chievo and could see him restored to the starting XI. After his energetic display, Claudio Marchisio will keep his place in the centre of midfield partnering Felipe Melo and Mauro Camoranesi. Coach Ciro Ferrara’s biggest conundrum centres around Iaquinta – does he stay in the side after his match-winning performance last week at Amauri’s expense, or does he make way for the returning captain? Martín Cáceres may make his Serie A debut at right-back in place of Zdeněk Grygera who faded badly in the second-half against Chievo.
21 Cáceres – 5 Cannavaro – 3 Chiellini – 19 Molinaro
16 Camoranesi – 8 Marchisio – 4 Melo
11 Amauri – 10 Del Piero
Much will depend on the outcome of the Giallorossi’s must-win Europa League game against MFK Kosice on Thursday, as form or injuries will dictate who starts against the Bianconeri. Spalletti will look to curb the attacking instincts of Juve’s Diego and Marchisio by sitting Daniele De Rossi and David Pizarro in front of the back-four, thus settling on a 4-2-3-1 formation with Francesco Totti playing as a lone striker, supported by three attacking midfielders.
Brazilian star Diego had an eventful introduction to life in Serie A. Although he took a beautiful free-kick setting up Iaquinta to score the winning goal against Chievo, he was constantly scythed down in areas just outside the opposition penalty box. While Coach Ferrara hopes his new signing comes through unscathed after every tackle, he will look to capitalise on the Roma defence’s fear of his trickery and goal-scoring threat by gaining significant advantages of play in key areas.
With all eyes on Milan for the Derby della Madonnina, Juventus will look to capitalise on Roma’s misery and open up an advantage over the two Milanese sides. Roma on the other hand will set about their task and attempt to kick-start their season. Over the last two seasons, Roma and Juventus have provided the closest challenge to Inter’s dominance, so one would also be well-advised to keep a close eye on events in Rome this Sunday.