Defending Serie A champions Juventus have been locked in an unexpected battle for their ninth Italian title in a row, and they enter Sunday’s away match in Rome — against 4th place AS Roma — in 2nd place. But the “Old Lady” trails arch-rival Inter Milan by just a single point, after Inter was tripped up and held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday against Atalanta. To take back the top spot, Juve will have to defeat a team that went unbeaten in 12 straight league matches until a loss last weekend, according to The Soccer Times.
Perhaps more importantly, the last time the two sides met at Stadio Olimpico, Juve suffered a rare defeat, losing 2-0, one of only four losses in the league in the 2018/2019 season. But the win for Roma still was not enough to earn them a UEFA Champions League spot, finally finishing 6th. Coming into Sunday, Roma occupy the 4th and final Champions League position. But Juventus remain slight favorites to take the win anyway.
According to odds published by Soccer Times, Juventus have been placed at 6/5 odds to take the full three points, while Roma are set at 9/4 to defend their home ground. A win would also move Roma to within four points of 3rd-place SS Lazio, who took a 1-0 home victory over Napoli on Saturday.
The ESPN FC panelists look at the relative prospects for both Inter and Juve, heading into the Serie A Round 19.
According to an analysis by Sports Betting Dime, the game will likely be predictable in the early stages, based on whether Roma succeed in denying the champions a majority of ball possession time. Juve have relied on a possession game this season, with more than 2,000 additional completed passes compared to Roma.
The Turin side’s pass completion percentage of 86.6 leads the Italian league, and is more than four points better than Roma’s 82.2 percent pass completion rate.
But the home ground advantage could play a major role in deciding the outcome on Sunday. Roma has not lost to Juventus in their last six games, across all competitions, in Rome, according to WhoScored.com stats.
Sunday’s game will mark the first meeting of the season between Roma and Juventus, but the Roman side has already faced Inter Milan on the road, back on December 6. Roma was able to hold the current Serie A leaders goalless, and the match ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
Juventus is coming off perhaps their best overall performance of the season last week, with a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of 6th-place Cagliari. But Roma suffered a shocking, 2-0 home defeat to the league’s 7th-place side, and another Turin team, Torino.