Serie A Preview: Juventus Face Early Test Against Roma in the Capital

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IAugust 29, 2009

ROME, ITALY - MARCH 21:  Matteo Brighi of Roma and Vincenzo Iaquinta of Juventus in action during the Serie A match between Roma and Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on March 21, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

It's only the second week of the Serie A season, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any exciting match-ups to be had the coming weekend.

If not for city rivals Inter and Milan facing off against one another, Juventus and Roma would be the biggest game on the fixture list. The heated rivalry between two of the biggest teams in Italy gets started a little earlier than it has in the past.

Last year the Bianconeri took both games against their rivals from the capital. In Turin, a Alessandro Del Piero free kick was the difference as Juve eventually went on to win 2-0. The return match in Rome was certainly more one-sided as Juve defeated Roma 4-1 thanks to a Vincenzo Iaquinta brace.

Juventus look to add to their domination this year. The Old Lady lead the all-time series against Roma with 78 wins, 49 draws, and 40 losses.



Ciro Ferrara's men arrive in Rome winners in their opening week after defeating Chievo Verona by the score of 1-0 last Sunday. A header by Vincenzo Iaquinta off a brilliant free kick by Diego in the 11th minute was the difference.

Ironically, Iaquinta was not supposed to be in the starting lineup against Chievo but was forced into playing from the opening whistle after captain Alessandro Del Piero aggrivated a back injury that has been bothering him the last couple of weeks.

It'll be interesting to see if Ferrara will stick with the Iaquinta-Amauri partnership that worked so well up from against Chievo or replace on of the strikers with Del Piero. Don't fix it if it isn't broke, right?

It was also a great debut for Diego in a Juventus uniform as he lived up to the high expectations that have been placed on him and his €24.5 million price tag. The pint-sized Brazilian was all over the field—getting back on defense, distributing the ball, anything and everything.

However, the scoreline should have been even greater in favor of Juventus. If not for clear fatigue, Juve certainly would have added at least one more goal.

The defense, for the most part, did its job against Chievo. Fabio Cannavaro, who was making his return to Turin after three years with Real Madrid, began the night being whistled by his own fans. By the end of the night, a good portion of the crowd were cheering him after a very solid performance.

If there is a question mark in defensive personnel selection, it would be at left back. Veteran Hasan Salihamidzic had to leave the game against Chievo at the half and if Ferrara sticks with the natural pecking order that he showed Sunday, then 22-year-old Paolo De Ceglie should get the nod ahead of Cristian Molinaro.

The summer's other big signing, midfielder Felipe Melo, looks set to make his debut after serving a suspension last week that carried over from last season. There were concerns over a possible muscle strain in the middle of the week, but he seems to be ready to go after Friday's training session in Vinovo.

There are continuous rumors that Juve sporting director Alessio Secco is currently negotiating to bring Lyon left back Fabio Grosso back to Italy. The 31-year-old Grosso was left off Lyon's Champions League squad and is considered surplus after the team signed Aly Cissokho from FC Porto this summer.

As goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has said, each of the 38 games this season should be played as if it was the final game of the year. Last weekend was the first first of 38 and with Inter slipping up against Bari in their opener, getting an early advantage on the closest rival for the Scudetto is crucial.

Juventus (predicted 4-3-1-2): Buffon, Grygera, Cannavaro, Chiellini, De Ceglie, Marchisio, Melo, Tiago, Diego, Iaquinta, Amauri



The story is a little different for Giallorossi boss Luciano Spalletti. His squad has not only been ravaged by injuries as they enter the weekend, but they were also very quiet on the transfer front in terms of bringing in top-flight players.

Added to the early worries and concerns was a highly-emotional 3-2 loss away to Genoa to open the season after a disappointing preseason schedule. Goals from Rodrigo Taddei and Francesco Totti allowed Roma to come from behind only to blow it and see Genoa take the lead back for good with 10 minutes to go.

After the game Spalletti voiced his concern with the management after having to start Argentine Nicolas Burdisso in the center of his defense the day after his loan move from Inter was finalized.

The problems between the coach and the management just sums up the frustrations that are in the Giallorossi camp. It has been a drama-filled summer to say the least with talk of the club being sold due to serious financial trouble.

The serious debt the club has accumulated resulted in prodigal son Alberto Aquilani being sold to Liverpool at the beginning of the month.

But now, as the talk of a possible sale has died down for the time being, it is now time to concentrate on the task in front of them on the field.

Roma's laundry list of absentees due to injury include Alexander Doni, Max Tonetto, Cicinho, Marco Andreolli, Matteo Brighi, and Stefano Okaka. However, on the bring side, both Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic and Brazilian defender Juan returned to action, albeit as substitutes in the 56th minute, on Thursday in Roma's 7-1 Europa League qualifying round demolition of Kosice.

Goals will certainly be harder to come by against a side like Juventus—no matter how shaky their defense may appear to be. But at least Roma have some of their confidence back.

Roma (predicted 4-2-3-1): Artur, Motta, Burdisso, Mexes, Riise, De Rossi, Pizarro, Taddei, Menez, Guberti, Totti