After the sacking of Zdenek Zeman, Roma began a new era under long-time assistant Aurelio Andreazzoli as they had ended the previous one - with a loss. The visit of Juventus is not well-timed for a Roma side needing to lick their wounds.
In their last match against Sampdoria, Roma went in at half time wondering how they weren't ahead, dominating the match and creating a host of chances. Unfortunately, after a positive first 45 minutes of the Andreazzoli era, things went all, well, Roma. Sampdoria went 1-0 up, and when Pablo Osvaldo was offered the chance to equalise from the penalty spot, his weak, directionless effort summed up Roma's second half performance rather succinctly. After the cut and thrust of Zeman's 4-3-3, Andreazzoli lined his side up in a 3-5-2 formation last week, aiming to control the midfield and use his central players to get the ball to the wide men, Erik Lamela and Marquinho. Unfortunately, the defensive frailties displayed under Zeman remained, with Lamela and Marquinho not tracking back enough and leaving the three-man defence exposed to the Sampdoria wingers Marcelo Estigarribia and Lorenzo di Silvestri, and with the quality of Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah on the Juventus flanks, it remains to be seen whether this approach will be repeated.
Juventus came away from a potentially tricky tie against Celtic in Glasgow in midweek with a 3-0 victory, despite never really kicking into gear. Whilst the Scots created most of the chances on the night, Juventus were simply far more clinical, ruthlessly punishing Celtic's defensive lapses. Domestically, Juve strolled to a 2-0 victory over Fiorentina last weekend, Mirko Vucinic and the in-form Alessandro Matri grabbing the goals. This, allied to Napoli and Lazio tripping each other up by drawing 1-1, means that Juve have a restored five point lead at the top of the table. Another good omen for Juve is that they have won all but one of their post-European encounters this season, clearly a European hangover is not something Antonio Conte is familiar with.
Given the comparative recent fortunes of these two clubs, it is difficult to look past a Juventus victory. As the second half wore on against Sampdoria last week, Roma looked as if the confidence was draining out of them by the minute, and Osvaldo's disastrous penalty miss won't have done his self-esteem any favours. Juve, on the other hand, have put their early-2013 blip well and truly behind them, winning their last two and going unbeaten in five league matches, strengthening their title credentials.
Roma will be without Leandro Castan and long-term absentee Mattia Destro whilst a host of players are in doubt, including Osvaldo, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi. Juventus will be without the suspended Claudio Marchisio and Federico Peluso, whilst Paolo De Ceglie joins the injury list populated by the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Nicklas Bendtner.
Roma Injuries and Suspensions
Out: Leandro Castan, Mattia Destro (injured); In Doubt: Daniele De Rossi, Pablo Osvaldo, Alessandro Florenzi, Marquinhos, Dodo, Federico Balzaretti
Juventus Injuries and Suspensions
Out: Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Pepe, Nicklas Bendtner, Paolo De Ceglie (injured), Claudio Marchisio, Federico Peluso (suspended)
Match Date/Time: Saturday 17 February 2013, 20:45 local, 14:45 E.T.
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
TV: Sky Calcio 1 (Italy), beIN Sport en Espanol (USA)