AS Roma vs Juventus
The champions need to get back on top of Serie A and would love to do so in the Italian capital.
Roma may be a shadow of their former selves, particularly after successive seasons of selling their leading performers, but they still love nothing more than inflicting defeat on a major rival.
They are generally a side in form too even if they went down at home 2-0 to Torino.
Yet they can still turn on the style as shown when they saw off Fiorentina 4-1 in Florence just before Christmas.
They also frustrated leaders Inter Milan by holding them to a goalless draw in the San Siro last month.
Serie A highlights beckon in Rome as fourth hosts second.
There are some who do not think Juventus are as dominant as in previous years.
Yet that does injustice to the title charge of big-spending Inter Milan, who also began the year well with an impressive victory earlier this week.
Winning an eighth league title in a row and a Supercoppa Italiana in 2019 can hardly be overlooked by Juve critics either, driven forward by the player for which you run out of superlatives who is Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has again been the best player by driving the team forward, and the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Federico Bernardeschi and Blaise Matuidi have been among his teammates stressing how impressed they were when they saw his ambition and dedication in training since arriving 18 months ago.
He will lead the line again this weekend with the only likely absentee being striker Gonzalo Higuain who is a doubt with a hamstring problem.
The 32 year-old returned to Turin last summer after unsuccessful loan spells at Milan and Chelsea but has featured regularly under boss Maurizio Sarri this season, registering seven goals and six assists in 23 appearances.
Inter have a more prolific frontman than any of them in Romelu Lukaku.
Quite what possessed Manchester United to sell (and not replace him) last summer mystified me then and continues to do so with each passing week.
With the Belgian alongside Lautaro Martinez, Inter have the tightest defence in the division, a midfield with an impressive array of combative and creative options and a 30-goal double act up front so Juventus know there is a serious, sustained threat to their hopes of regaining the championship this time around.
Hence why I expect them to be on form this weekend.
For Roma, who have their sights set on Europa League success, a return to the Champions League next season is a key aim and they will have a largely full strength team including on-loan Manchester United defender Chris Smalling with the exception of his team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian international turns 31 next month and is on loan from Arsenal. He recently picked up another muscular injury.
The creative midfielder has made only 11 competitive appearances for the Giallorossi since arriving in September by contributing three goals and an assist and has not started a game since December 12 due to muscular issues.
Just as he was on his way back to full fitness, Mkhitaryan was a substitute last weekend and suffered another muscular injury.
Roma will hope for better luck on the pitch this weekend than he is having off it.
Roma have only two victories over Juventus in their last seven meetings, although their most recent one – last May – came against a Juve side which had already clinched the title.
Yet their record at the Stadio Olimpico against the ‘old lady’ is good.
Last season’s 2-0 win was preceded by a goalless draw, which in turn, was preceded by a 3-1 success when Radja Nainggolan, Stephan El Shaarawy and Daniele De Rossi were all on target.
In fact, you have to go back six years to the last time Juventus won in Rome.
Their other clash last season saw a 1-0 home Juve win courtesy of a first half Mario Mandzukic goal.
|AS Roma vs Juventus||Juventus Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.25|
|January 13, 03:45 (GMT+8)|
The SBOBET Serie A betting odds have Juventus naturally as favourites but it’s closer than you might think.
The champions can be backed 1X2 @ 2.25, Roma @ 2.98 and the draw @ 3.45.
With Asian Handicap odds, Roma 0.00 @ 2.35 has caught my eye, as has Juventus -0.50 @ 2.25. In fact, that is my tip as I just think the Turin side will be desperate for all three points in their quest for a ninth successive Scudetto.
Elsewhere, how about over 3.00 goals @ 2.29, total goal 2-3 @ 1.97, 4-6 @ 3.10 or a repeat of last year’s fixture – correct score 2-0 – @ 20.00.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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