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Talking Roma-Juventus With BWRAO

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To get a glimpse into the other side of this rivalry, we turned to Juventus expert and Black, White & Read All Over chief, Danny.

Italy v Spain - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

If it seems like we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about Juventus on here, well, there’s a good reason; they’re the Marcia Brady to Roma’s Jan Brady, the prettier, more successful sister always keeping Roma at arm’s length. Granted, that relationship has given us a certain edge and a certain insight, there’s only so much we can, as outsiders, glean from that—so to get a better look at the Old Lady, we turned to Danny at Black White & Read All Over, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1. Recently Luciano Spalletti suggested that Roma needs to think and win like Juventus. As someone who obviously follows the team closely, what exactly does that entail? And, be honest, do you think Roma can achieve that?

Danny: For one, I think the main thing is getting wins when the performance is not up to the level that many expect. The expectations surrounding Juventus this season were sky-high, with many folks thinking they were going to dominate everybody from the get-go. But when it comes to the overall performance level as a whole this season, it has left a lot to be desired. However, despite all of that, Juve are still first in Serie A and finished atop their Champions League group. Call it grinding out wins or whatever you want, Juventus have won a lot of games in relatively unimpressive fashion this season. Other clubs may drop points in those kinds of situations, but Juventus -- most of the time -- hasn't done that.

Do I think Roma can achieve that? Based on the history of the club ... yeah, I dunno about that one. {Bren’s note: ouch}

2. Okay, Juventus is still in first place, but the belief across the league is that, unlike prior years, they're beatable. To what would you attribute that belief?

Danny: I think they're being looked at in that way because, until recently, they weren't playing all that well. Like I said, people expected Juventus to just crush the competition with the moves they made this summer to add to what was already in place. Instead, they've been dealing with injuries up and down the roster from pretty much the first week on. Just think about this: Claudio Marchisio, Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Marko Pjaca amongst others have all missed good chunks of time this season due to injury. For some clubs, that would mean disaster and a tumble down the table. Juventus, much to their credit, have been able to continue to get results. But the turning point in terms of the team's overall performance level could be the 3-1 win over Atalanta a couple of weeks ago. If they can continue to build off that like they have been, then there's the chance that they come close to resemble the wrecking ball that everybody thought they would be entering the season

3.How has Miralem Pjanic been received by Juve fans thus far? Disappointing? Surprising? As expected?

Danny: It's been a mixed bag for Mire, but I think it's getting better. A lot of it has been adjusting to a new system, where Max Allegri has played him and just the general fact that Juve's injury situation has been a complete revolving door most of the season. If Allegri plans to have Pjanic be the '1' in his 4-3-1-2 formation that he's been using as of late, then I think that's where he's going to be at his best. Go back and watch what Pjanic did against Atalanta and tell me that wasn't a vintage kind of performance from his Roma days. That's the Pjanic Juventus were expecting when they signed him this summer. {Bren’s note: he’s absolutely right, and that should scare us}

4.What worries you most about Saturday's match? Roma's midfield? Edin Dzeko? Diego Perotti's neck tattoo?

Danny: As much as a big neck tat can scare me off, I'd say it's Dzeko getting in the same kind of groove he's been in for most of the season. I think it's safe to say this is the player Roma thought they were getting last season. And why wouldn't you be at least a little worried about a striker who has been scoring goals like Dzeko has been this season? It may not be to the levels that Gonzalo Higuain was performing at with Napoli last season, but 12 goals in 16 league appearances is a pretty good clip.

5. Give our readers a couple of key match-ups for Saturday's fixture.

Danny: I will take the easy way out and say the likely Giorgio Chiellini-Daniele Rugani tandem against Dzeko and then Higuain/Mario Mandzukic/Paulo Dybala combination against Roma's defense. Depending on if this is the game where Dybala makes his return to the Juventus starting lineup, Allegri's attack could have a much-needed different kind of element than it's had in recent weeks. As well as Mandzukic is playing, Dybala offers something that no other Juve player can

6. Gianluigi Buffon's moustache, please discuss...

Danny: I don't want to discuss it. I love Gigi, I really do, but I'm not sure having a mustache like Tom Selleck is the best look he should go with. (But then again, he's the GOAT, so who am I to judge, right?) {Bren’s note: I don’t know what he’s talking about, that thing is fucking flawless}

7. Finally, how is Gonzalo Higuaín so effective despite being so festively plump?

Danny: Luckily for us Juventus fans, the Higuain who rolled into town after his Copa America break isn't the same one we saw celebrating shirtless after the Turin derby. He's cut the fat, and it seems as though he's starting to find his goal-scoring form once again. Sorry, but that's the truth. Roma may have the second-best defense in Serie A, but Gonzalo getting back into form is a pretty good thing for those of us who see things through black and white glasses.

See? Not all Juve fans are bad. Roma and Juventus kicks off tomorrow afternoon. Be there or be square!