AS Roma, Italian Serie A, Juventus, Leagues, Story


Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has hailed Roma as “one of the favourites” to win this season’s Serie A championship ahead of their visit to the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
The defending champions sit one point behind leaders Napoli with Roma, who have played one game less, three points further back in a thrilling title battle.
Roma head to Turin unbeaten on the road this season, and without defeat in their last nine matches – a streak which has included seven victories.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side, however, have never won at the Allianz Stadium since it was opened in 2011, but Allegri says Juventus will take nothing for granted.
“Roma are definitely one of the favourites for the Scudetto,” Allegri said. “Away from home Roma haven’t even been behind for a single minute and that says a lot about how much quality they possess.
“Eusebio Di Francesco has shown that he is able to prepare his teams well, both technically and tactically. He has been able to give the team a good balance, in what is a difficult environment.
“Looking in from the outside I think he’s doing a good job there, transmitting harmony to the squad.
“The big matches between strong teams are always even. Look at the games against Napoli [Juventus won 1-0] and Inter [0-0]. I think it will be the same against Roma, an even game.”
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will start against the team for whom he spent two seasons on loan with as Gianluigi Buffon struggles with a calf injury.
Allegri, meanwhile, will take a late decision on the fitness of Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado.
Roma are enjoying one of their strongest seasons in recent years, and have amassed 38 points after 16 games – a total they have bettered only once when they scored 39 at the same stage back in 2003.
And a victory for the visitors would only enhance their credentials as championship challengers this season.
“We’ll prepare for it knowing it’s a massive game,” boss Di Francesco said. “I won’t say its decisive but it’s hugely significant from a mental and psychological standpoint.
“The team has to look for a positive result at all costs and at a tough ground in every respect. But we cannot alter the identity this Roma side has had up until now.”
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