Since the 2010s, Roma’s matches against Juventus have been some of the most riveting matches for the Giallorossi have played each season. Even though they haven’t gone Roma’s way that often (it took until last season for Roma to win their first match at Juventus Stadium), both clubs obviously care about this match nearly as much as they do their respective derbies each season, and for good reason. Roma was consistently a thorn in Juventus’ side at the peak of the Pallotta era, and although i Lupi haven’t achieved second place in the league since the 2016-2017 season, the contentious matches between Juve and Roma are nearly always must-see footballing action.
Juventus vs. Roma: October 17th. 20:45 CET/2:45 EDT. Allianz Stadium, Torino
Despite Juventus’ ability to consistently come out on top against Roma over the past decade, there’s no denying that this season feels different for both clubs. Even beyond Juventus’ poor form to start the season, the respective hirings of José Mourinho and Max Allegri bring back a level of class to this matchup that has been missing since Luciano Spalletti was coaching i Lupi against Juve and, uh, Max Allegri. Two of the winningest managers in league history going up against each other for the first time in years was always going to make this a match even the neutrals will show up for; it remains to be seen if the Giallorossi can get three points from a wounded Juve.
What To Watch For
The biggest question hanging over this match was whether or not Tammy Abraham would be fit enough to play. With reports now suggesting that Abraham will be given more time to recuperate following a knock picked up with the English National Team, it looks like Eldor Shomurodov may be in line for a start at a critical juncture for the Giallorossi.
Shomurodov has shown good form when played so far this season, and given the fact that Borja Mayoral seems all but condemned to ride the pine, an injured Abraham gives Shomurodov a golden opportunity to push for more consistent playing time in the starting eleven. There’s no doubt that Abraham is Roma’s number one striker for the long haul, but a goalscoring performance from Shomurodov against Juventus might be enough to get Mourinho to start the Uzbek international more frequently in the league. I’m a huge fan of what Abraham brings to the table, so don’t take this as me suggesting I want to see less of Abraham; it’s more that I want Abraham to be available or critical games like this each and every time, and having more rotation upfront could help mitigate any future injury concerns.
Is This Richy Calafiori’s Moment?
Speaking of players who might be getting a golden opportunity against Juventus, Riccardo Calafiori, ladies and gentlemen. Calafiori has had a pretty good start to the season, finding starts here and there and acting admirably as Matias Viña’s backup, but most of the matches he’s played in have been relatively low-stakes. With Viña once again coming back from international duty a bit later than the rest of the squad, it appears that Roma’s sole Italy U-21 international will get his first real shot against a big club in a match that matters.
Of course, Calafiori has found success at Juventus Stadium before; if you don’t remember his disallowed howitzer from last season’s late spring win, it’s worth watching again. This match certainly carries more weight, though, as both Juve and Roma are duking it out for a top-four spot this season. A good performance from Calafiori against one of the titans of Serie A will not only confirm that the Giallorossi have found a class prospect; it will practically force Mourinho into giving Richy more starts, particularly while Leonardo Spinazzola is still rehabbing his Achilles.
Can Zaniolo Find The Net?
Nicolò Zaniolo certainly doesn’t need a golden opportunity to start, but he does need to start turning good performances into goals. Zaniolo was mighty impressive against Empoli and Lazio before the international break, but it’s only natural that some tifosi are getting impatient with The Kid, hoping that he’ll turn class performances into goals with more regularity. I’ve been cautioning that Zaniolo just needs more time under his cleats post-injury for the goals to start flowing, but particularly with Tammy Abraham likely out against Juventus, this match screams out as an opportunity for Zaniolo to get off the mark in Serie A for the season.
We all know the ability Zaniolo has; there’s a reason he’s been our #1 youth prospect each season since he joined up with the Giallorossi. We just have to hope that as he gets the rust off of his cleats, luck goes his way a bit more and he returns to being a consistent goalscoring threat. Roma will certainly be ten times more dangerous when the goals start pouring in for Zaniolo.
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