16.12.2016 11:00 - in: Serie A S

      #JuveRoma: key names and numbers

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      First meets second this Saturday with the visit of Roma, so here’s an extra in-depth match preview ahead of the big occasion at the Stadium
      Form teams face each other

      There’s a reason why Juventus and Roma are first and second in the league table respectively: they’ve been picking up points with the greatest consistency since the summer, and it’s no surprise to see them top the form table going into Saturday’s showdown at the Stadium.

      The Giallorossi have done marginally better over the last 10 Serie A games with eight wins and a draw, meaning they’ve picked up one more point than their hosts over the period.

      Luciano Spalletti’s men have, however, fared far better at home than on their travels this term (three defeats and two draws in eight away games) and will need to improve that trend this weekend if they are to close the gap on the league leaders.

      A maiden victory for the visitors at Juventus Stadium would see them go within just a point of the champions, whereas a seventh successive home triumph over Roma would separate the sides by a significant seven points going into the New Year.

      It really is all to play for…

      The main men

      Going into Saturday’s game, it’s easy to see why people will be focusing their attentions on the men up front. 

      After all, this match will feature the league’s joint top scorer, Edin Dzeko, and potentially all three of Juve’s standout strikers, namely Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, making this arguably the most enticing encounter of the campaign so far.

      Dzeko, who sits level on 12 goals in Serie A with Inter’s Mauro Icardi, may be going through the least prolific spell of his season with just two strikes in his last six league outings, but the Bianconeri backline will need to be at their best to stop the Bosnia international, who has also netted five times in the Europa League, to add to his tally in Turin. 

      After three goals in his last two games, Higuain has hit form again at the right time and will be keen to score again in a big league outing this term after banging in winners against Fiorentina, Napoli and, of course, Torino last weekend.

      That’s not to lose sight of either Mandzukic or Dybala, either capable of making their mark: in the former’s case, contributions can be expected from anywhere across the field if his recent showings are anything to go by. From crucial assists in attack to shot blocking in defence, Mario is certainly putting the team first.

      Then there’s Paulo Dybala, who’s already been a lively presence up front since recovering from injury, not least a dynamic dribble and precise pass to Miralem Pjanic for Juve’s third and final strike in last weekend’s derby.

      Pjanic himself will be looking to have his say on proceedings too in what will be the first time he faces his former employers since switching Rome for Turin in the summer. 

      Last but not least, it’s certainly worth mentioning the undoubted importance of Radja Nainggolan to Roma’s midfield. The battle-hardened Belgian, operating from box to box, loves to tackle just as much he does scoring and he’s capable of netting on the big stage too after strikes against Lazio and Milan in his last two matches. 

      Recent record vs Roma

      Juventus’ record against Roma makes fine reading for fans of a Bianconeri persuasion, especially in recent times.

      Fourteen victories, five draws and three defeats paint a predominantly positive picture over the last 12 years. Moreover, Juve have only once failed to find the net in this timeframe: February 2013 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

      The Bianconeri also boast a 100 per cent record over the Capitoline club at Juventus Stadium and there’ve been a few thrashings handed out in the process.

      Over the course of these five home victories, Juve have scored 15 goals in contrast to Roma’s three.

      An eye-catching achievement on the cards?

      A sixth Stadium victory over Saturday’s opponents would also mean that Massimiliano Allegri’s men will have won every single league match at home during 2016, while also equalling their previous record of consecutive home successes in Serie A, established between August 2013 and November 2014. 

      The last time they dropped any points in front of their supporters was back in September 2015 against Frosinone – a distant memory indeed!

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