Roma's struggles against Juventus on the road (and in general, let's be real) have been well documented, but just how bad has it been for the Giallorossi when they head north to meet the Old Lady? Well, whether we're talking about the old Stadio delle Alpi or the new Allianz Stadium, Roma has only beat Juventus at home in Serie A...are you ready for this?... NINE TIMES. Nine times! In the 91 year history between these two clubs, Roma hasn't even cracked double-digit wins on the road yet, that's how lopsided this “rivalry” has been for the past nine decades.
Of course, it isn't all bad when Roma and Juventus meet. In fact, Roma has taken positive points from each of their last two league fixtures against the Old Lady: a 3-1 victory on the final matchday of 2019-2020; an incredibly strange match in which a Diego Perotti brace and a Nikola Kalinic goal helped Daniel Fuzato claim his first professional victory.
Juventus vs. Roma: February 6th. 18:00 CET/12:00 EST. Allianz Stadium, Torino.
Juventus already had the league wrapped up by that point, so that match was essentially meaningless, but Roma managed to put an early dent in Andrea Pirlo's coaching resume last time out, so let's take a quick trip back to the fall.
September 27, 2020: Roma 2, Juventus 2
In front of a smattering of fans at the Olimpico, Roma and Juventus traded first-half handball penalties before Jordan Veretout put Roma ahead 2-1 just at the stroke of half-time. Edin Dzeko nearly put the match beyond doubt when he struck the woodwork shortly thereafter, but when Adrien Rabiot was sent packing just past the hour mark, it finally seemed like fortune would swing Roma's way. In the end, it wasn't meant to be as Cristiano Ronaldo's glancing 69th-minute header stole two points from Roma.
Juve have yet to play their previously postponed match against Napoli and have a game in hand over Roma, but the Giallorossi enter this match one spot and one point better than Juve on the table, so let's take a look at how they can remain a step ahead of the Old Lady.
What to Watch For Tomorrow
Borja's Big Test
With nine goals and four assists in 20 appearances (all comps), Borja Mayoral has been a pleasant surprise for Roma in 2020-2021. While he was pretty well regarded among Real Madrid faithful, Mayoral has never enjoyed a stretch quite like this. In fact, Mayoral has already set a career-high with those nine goals, and with the uncertain relationship between Paulo Fonseca and Edin Dzeko, Mayoral stands to pad that figure substantially.
There's just one problem. CFR Cluj, Parma, BSC Young Boys, Crotone, Spezia, and Verona—the teams against whom Mayoral has scored—aren't exactly a murderer's row of European football. Throw in a few egregious misses and Mayoral's run isn't quite as glamorous as it may seem on the surface.
Now, there's nothing wrong with scoring against lower clubs, especially not for a young player like Mayoral, but, assuming he starts tomorrow, this will be the biggest match of Mayoral's season, if not his entire European career.
Roma are never far from uncertainty, but even with the wound between Fonseca and Dzeko no longer hemorrhaging, Dzeko's days with Roma are likely numbered. So, if Mayoral wants to be the man leading the line in 2021 and beyond, he needs to replicate those performances in the matches that truly matter.
Is It Time for The 3-5-2?
With his squad missing Chris Smalling in defense (injury) and Lorenzo Pellegrini in attack (suspension), word on the streets says that Fonseca has experimented with a new formation in training this week: the Antonio Conte-approved 3-5-2.
While formations are fluid, Pellegrini's absence is likely driving this subtle tweak, one that would see Bryan Cristante assume the role of midfield playmaker, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mayoral sitting up top and Roger Ibañez, Marash Kumbulla and Gianluca Mancini comprising the Smalling-less defense.
It's not a dramatic departure by any means but does bring subtle changes to several player's roles, so it's something to keep an eye on, particularly against an opponent of this caliber.
Game of Goalkeepers
Despite Juve’s historical dominance over Roma, the two clubs are closer than ever on the table, perhaps suggesting that the gap between the two clubs is shrinking—at least for this season.
But, have a look at these stats and tell me how you feel:
Wojciech Szczesny vs Roma: Seven matches, three clean-sheets, eight goals conceded, 80% of shots stopped
Pau Lopez vs Juventus: Two matches, zero clean-sheets, five goals conceded, 50% of shots stopped.
Get well soon, Antonio Mirante!