Picking a Combined AS Roma-Juventus XI
With the incredible seasons both have had, picking a combined Roma-Juventus XI was never going to be an easy task.
Italy's two best sides have been great entertainment all year, and in truth, fans and pundits could probably come up with several different line-ups without being able to say for sure which one was best.
This list, then, is just one writer's humble selection for a 4-3-3 based on a not-entirely-scientific system that's combined statistics, personal preferences and a season of emotion, both in the stands and glued to the TV.
Keeper: Gigi Buffon
Morgan De Sanctis is a man reborn at Roma and has enjoyed an almost faultless season between the posts. But, unfortunately, he's no Gianluigi Buffon.
The great Juventus 'keeper is an all-time great, he's captain for both club and country, and his leadership qualities—coupled with his ability to inspire teammates with his own skill—make him the obvious choice for any dream team. Sorry, Morgan.
Right-Back: Douglas Maicon
Stephan Lichtsteiner provided more assists this term, but playing as an attacking wing-back, that's to be expected.
His crosses into the box were certainly valuable for Juve, but the triumphant manner in which Douglas Maicon has returned to Serie A gets him the pick.
The Brazilian failed to live up to the standards he set at Inter while at Manchester City, and when he joined the Giallorossi on a free transfer last summer, it was seen as a bit of a gamble.
It paid off. He's been one of the league's best full-backs and consistently inspired lightning-quick attacks from the back for Roma throughout the campaign. He might not rack up the assists, but he's a key instigator.
Kwadwo Asamoah is often criminally under-rated. He might not have the star power of some of Juve's other starters, but you're always guaranteed 100 percent from the Ghanaian.
The fact that he's played 43 games this season for the Bianconeri illustrates just how integral Antonio Conte thinks he is.
All that said, he's not a left-back. He's not even originally a wing-back, though he's now made the role his own. When he has been deployed in a proper full-back situation—against Real Madrid in the Champions League—he was poor and looked uncomfortable, hardly something you could criticise in a defensive midfielder.
It's Dodo, then, by default. The young Brazilian is better than some people give him credit for and continues to improve under Rudi Garcia. He still makes the occasional mistake, but at just 22, there's time for him to develop and deliver on his exciting potential.
Centre-Backs: Mehdi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini
Not an easy selection to make because Leandro Castan has been immense for Roma this season, and Leonardo Bonucci is a steady performer for club and country.
Mehdi Benatia has been extraordinary, however, and Giorgio Chiellini is rarely anything other than exceptional.
Anyone who questioned Roma signing the France-born Moroccan for €13.5 million in the summer quickly stopped, as he immediately established himself in the Giallorossi squad and formed what is the league's most imposing centre-back partnership with Castan.
What Benatia lacks in pace, he more than makes up for in intelligence and defensive awareness, meaning he's almost always in the right place at the right time.
Chiellini's been part of Juve's rebirth and has been a fundamental part of their historic three successive Scudetti. No combined XI would be complete without him.
Midfield: Andrea Pirlo
It had to be, really. There are few footballers in the world more graceful and incisive than Andrea Pirlo, and though he's not the quickest, he'd probably find a place in any midfield in the world.
It's four Scudetti in a row now for one of Italy's most iconic players, and we still have a World Cup to look forward to.
Midfield: Daniele De Rossi
Like Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi makes the team without having to look at the stats or even pause for a moment's thought.
Both Juve and Roma are blessed with several of Europe's most gifted midfielders, but De Rossi is so integral to Roma and to Italy that he couldn't be left out.
The Roman would be the heart and soul of any team—and he's got a long and prosperous relationship in the middle with Pirlo for the national side. It's a match made in heaven.
Midfield: Arturo Vidal
Paul Pogba, Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan—all of them would be fine additions to a combined XI.
But Arturo Vidal is arguably Juve's best player right now and could possibly be the best in the world in his role as well.
He's got 11 goals and five assists this season, which is more than a lot of strikers. On top of that, he's the Bianconeri's engine in the centre of the park and contributes as much with his devastating runs and precise through balls as he does in defence, tracking back and tackling.
As close as you'll get to the complete midfielder.
Forward: Miralem Pjanic
Playing trequartista isn't Miralem Pjanic's best position, but he's been used there in the past and it would be impossible to leave out the Bosnian, who's been Roma's best player this season.
The 24-year-old was impressive throughout the campaign and was man of the match on numerous occasions. His set pieces, range of passing and speculative shots made him a joy to watch all year, and it won't be surprising if the club have plenty of offers for him over the summer.
And on the evidence of his wonder goal against Milan alone, he deserves inclusion.
Forward: Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez had an almost perfect debut season at Juventus. The Argentine perhaps could have been more effective in the Champions League, but blame for those poor performances is on the shoulders of the whole team.
In the league, the former Manchester City star was irresistible—and unstoppable. He's notched up 19 goals and seven assists in 32 Serie A appearances, while continuing to display the selflessness and strong team ethic that's always been a hallmark of his game.
Forward: Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti is 37 but still one of Serie A's most consistently brilliant and inventive players, and after Pjanic, he was Roma's standout star all campaign.
He's also the finishing touch to the World Cup-winning core at the heart of this combined XI, along with Buffon, Pirlo and his fellow Roman, De Rossi.
Er Pupone is comfortable in a range of forward roles and regularly pulls of tricky passes and clever flicks that other footballers could only dream of. Eight goals and 10 assists from 24 appearances is a healthy haul, but only reveals a fraction of the great Roma captain's worth to his—to any—side.
Honourable Mentions: Paul Pogba, Fernando Llorente and Gervinho
Paul Pogba will almost certainly be a firm fixture in dream XI lists for years to come but just missed out here to the experience and steel of De Rossi and the more finely-tuned skills of Vidal.
If he continues to develop at this pace—and if he stays at Juve—no doubt he'll be the first on the sheet next season.
After a sluggish start, Fernando Llorente knuckled down and became an important part of Juve's title-winning campaign. The doubters have been proved wrong, and now the powerful centre-forward looks like a vey shrewd acquisition indeed.
Gervinho has been one of Serie A's most-talked-about players all year, partly because of his fine performances in a Roma shirt but also due to the fact that they were in such stark contrast to those we saw while he was at Arsenal.
The reunion with Rudi Garcia—who coached him at Lille—has been a happy and successful one, and the pacey Ivorian will be a central figure in the Giallorossi's title push next season.