Roma ready to give title race a twist against visiting Juventus
There may still be miles to go in the Scudetto race, but Roma are more than aware that their upcoming clash with league leaders Juventus is their last chance to take points off the in-form Old Lady.
A nine point gap is not insurmountable and bigger leads have been lost but, should Juve triumph in the Stadio Olympico (which they are 5/4 favourites with Coral to do), the Giallrosso could be left behind.
Playing in front of the passionate Roman faithful and with little to lose, the Italian capital club have a unique opportunity to halt their rival’s recent rampant run.
Juve have romped to eight wins in their last 11 outings across all competitions, and are unbeaten so far in 2015.
So, the Giallrossi must go for the jugular, as even a draw (11/5) would do them few favours. Rudi Garcia’s men certainly seem up for the challenge and are 9/4 to win and cut the Old Lady’s lead to six points.
Rome-born skipper and striker Francesco Totti wrote an open letter to fans recently, summing-up the Giallorossi’s predicament. The evergreen attacker stated: “Until a few days ago it seemed as if there was no hope for us in this match. Instead we’re convinced that we can challenge and give meaning to this title race, to re-open a matter that had seemed closed.
“These last few weeks have not been easy and we were upset to have disappointed our fans, but I am confident. I think the worst is behind us.”
Roma have won just two of their last nine Serie A duels which, after a bright start to the season, allowed Juve to steam ahead.
The Turin team have taken all three points from five of their previous six league battles with the Giallorossi, though the Eternal City outfit have a better record of just one loss to Juve in their past three home clashes.
Match-ups between these two Italian giants are always thrilling, with drama and passion galore, as evidenced by the reverse fixture earlier this season, in which two penalties were awarded and both Alvaro Morata and Kostas Manolas saw red.
Juve edged that clash 3-2, so back another goal fest, with excellent odds of 16/1 for both teams to score in both halves.
Giallorossi president James Pallotta certainly seems to believe that his side can go toe-to-toe with Juve if they follow their attacking philosophy. The 56-year-old said: “We are on the same level as Juventus and I’m not looking to just defend second place. I think that if we play the way we know how it’ll be a very open match.”
New striker Seydou Doumbia is an injury doubt, so iconic Totti (15/8 in the anytime market), top scorer Adem Ljajic (7/1 to strike first, or 2/1 to net anytime) and Ivory Coast international Gervinho (7/1 to close the scoring) will likely lead the attack.
Meanwhile, in a boost for Juve, who must take this chance to all but run Roma out of the Scudetto chase, France superstar Paul Pogba should be fit to play a part.
The powerful midfielder is always a threat going forward and is 2/1 to grab a goal anytime, while striking starlet Morata is 6/1 to draw first blood. Joint-leading Serie A marksman Carlos Tevez bagged a brace against the Giallorossi last time these two teams met, so is a superb 7/1 to score two or more and prove influential again.