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Probable Formations: Juventus vs Roma

The Giallorossi could have a big boost for their massive match at the Allianz Stadium against Juve.

AS Roma Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

On Saturday, the Giallorossi head to Turin to close out the 2023 calendar year against second-place Juventus. The big match in Italy’s north comes on the heels of a huge Roma victory at the Olimpico against defending champions Napoli. It was a massive win for José Mourinho’s side after dropping points against Fiorentina and Bologna in consecutive weeks to fall to eighth in the table.

It was a stretch in which Roma had to cope without talisman Paulo Dybala for all but 25 minutes against the Viola. Dybala was expected to be out until the calendar turned to 2024, but the Argentine returned to full training this week. It was a positive twist of fate for Romanisti as hope reigns in the Eternal City that he can contribute against his former side.

Mourinho was asked about his status prior to Friday’s training session and had the following to say:

“I won’t give you an answer about whether he might start or not. Having a press conference at 10:30 before training is also a form of protection, but there’s a feeling that Paulo will be available. As for whether he’ll play, start on the bench or be in the XI, besides the fact that I don’t want to tell you, the truth is I haven’t decided yet. I still need to talk to him and see how he’s feeling. If everything goes as normal in training, he’ll travel with us and be available for selection.”

Whether Mourinho was being honest or coy, we can’t know for sure. Nevertheless, major publications like Sky and EuroSport are projecting Dybala to not only play but start. So, we’ll do the same.

Another player slated to return to the starting lineup after playing hero as a substitute last weekend is captain Lorenzo Pellegrini. If that happens, then Edoardo Bove will likely be used off the bench. Mourinho also had kind words for his skipper during his pre-match presser.

“My opinion is that he’s improving and that’s what I like. Besides the crucial goal that he notched against Napoli and the way he came on in that game, he also did an excellent job the previous week.

“He’s not the type to let up and I’ve never seen him do that, while some others may not work at their hardest in the week. Not him, he’s always focused and works hard. Last week, I saw he had that touch of quality, à la Lorenzo.

“He did well when he came on, he played well and he has kept that going this week, so I’m pleased. You might be right that for a period of time he dipped slightly and wasn’t performing to his usual high standards, but now we’re seeing them. We need to make the most of his form in a period in which we have so many games to play, with seven or eight fixtures back-to-back in January. He’s important because he’s a top-quality player.”

The Special One also confirmed that the back three will remain unchanged—no surprises there. Vice-Captain Gianluca Mancini will continue to grit his teeth and play through pain for the good of the side, as no other options are available along the back.

“Mancini is in the same situation as last week, with a feeling that he already knows well: playing without training. He did really well against Napoli. He’ll certainly play tomorrow, no doubt about that. He’ll play and so will [Diego] Llorente and [Evan] Ndicka. Mancini knows how important he is to us.”

The only other question surrounding the XI comes at left-wing back, where Roma has yet to find consistent contributions from Leo Spinazzola or Nicola Zalewski. It seems to be between those two and Stephan El Shaarawy for the starting nod. We’ll tip Spinazzola as the more natural defender in what should prove to be a grind-it-out type of match.

Probable Formation

ROMA (3-5-2): Patricio; Ndicka, Llorente, Mancini; Spinazzola, Cristante, Paredes, Pellegrini, Kristensen; Dybala, Lukaku.