Good evening everyone! What a game we have in prospect, as the two best teams in Serie A go head to head at the Stadio Olimpico. Juventus
are cruising and look firm favourites to land another title, while Roma have suffered a dip in form and desperately need a win today to reignite their faint hopes of becoming champions alive.
Many people felt that Roma had a great chance of winning the Scudetto for the first time in 14 years after setting a record points tally last season. However, things have not quite gone to plan and a number of draws since the beginning of January has seen them fall nine points behind Juventus.
The same can't be said of Juventus, who have been doing what they do best. They have established a healthy lead at the top of the table and are still involved in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League. A treble could well be on the cards and you would be brave to bet against such a formidable team.
ROMA XI: De Sanctis, Torosidis, Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Holebas , Pjanic, De Rossi, Keita, Gervinho, Totti, Ljajic
JUVENTUS XI: Buffon, Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini, Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Marchisio, Pereyra, Evra, Tevez, Morata
So, that's how each side will be lining up this evening. Let's begin by looking at Roma, who have chosen to start with Francesco Totti
, Adem Ljajic
in their attack. Miralem Pjanic
and Daniele De Rossi
are in the midfield, but Radja Nainggolan
is surprisingly left on the bench.
Moving on to the visitors now and Juventus have been dealing with a number of injury problems all week. Andrea Pirlo
misses out with an ankle injury, while Paul Pogba
has been rested. The good news is that Arturo Vidal
has been passed fit and makes the starting XI. There is also plenty of firepower, with Carlos Tevez
and Alvaro Morata
leading the line.
ROMA: Skorupski, Curci, Astori, Spolli, Cole, Nainggolan, Paredes, Uçan, Florenzi, Iturbe, Sanabria, Verde
JUVENTUS: Storari, Rubinho, Barzagli, Ogbonna, De Ceglie, Padoin, Pogba, Pepe, Coman, Llorente, Matri
Roma may not have been doing well domestically, but they come into today's game off the back of a Europa League victory against Feyenoord that was marred with controversy. The Bianconeri also enjoyed a good evening on the continent, as they claimed a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.
If you watched the match between these teams earlier in the season, then you will know that we could be in for some fireworks tonight. Juventus came out on top with a 3-2 win, but that doesn't tell the full story. There were controversial penalties, two red cards and a stunning late volley from Leonardo Bonucci
packed into a very eventful 90 minutes.
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Just a reminder that today's match will be getting underway at 8pm instead of the previously scheduled time of 7.45pm. Every game in Serie A this weekend has been played 15 minutes later in support of crisis-hit Parma.
So, where will today's game be won and lost? The midfield battle is always a key part of any title clash and today Roma may have the edge. They have all of their key players fit, while Juventus are missing the inspirational duo of Pirlo and Pogba.
Well, a look at the overall head to head record between the teams makes disappointing viewing for Roma fans. Juventus have come out on top in six of their last eight meetings and they have a pretty good record at the Stadio Olimpico.
Right, with not long until kick off it's time to offer a quick prediction. I think we could be in for an exciting game today and I am expecting there to be a few goals. The onus is on Roma to go out and claim the points, as anything less than a win today will give the title to Juventus. Despite their recent dip in form, I just feel that Rudi Garcia
's side can take advantage of the injuries to their opponents, with a 2-1 victory to the Giallorossi how I see this ending.
It's worth remembering that points in the title race are not all that are at stake for Roma. Their recent bad patch has seen Napoli close to within three points of them in the table. Slightly further back are Lazio and Fiorentina, as the race for the final Champions League places looks set to go to the wire.
The players are now finally out on the pitch and we are just a few moments away from this vital clash getting underway!
KICKOFF! We are underway at the Stadio Olimpico!
With under 30 seconds of the game played we have already seen a rather tasty challenge. De Rossi went in pretty hand on Vidal and the referee was quick to come over and talk to the players and diffuse the situation without handing out a booking.
Roma have begun the match on the front foot and they are taking the game to Juventus in these early stages. An early goal would be just what Garcia is looking for, but they will know just how dangerous their opponents can be on the break.
SHOT! The visitors have settled now and they have the first shot of the match. Tevez slips in Lichtsteiner down the right, who gets to the byline and drives a low cross into the box. Roma are only able to clear it to Vidal on the edge of the area and the Chilean then gets a low strike away that ends up heading wide of the far post.
There hasn't been too much goalmouth action, but it is certainly an intriguing watch. Juventus seem well set up to soak up the pressure of their hosts and hit them on the counter and you suspect that if they were to score the first goal then it would be a tough ask of Roma to come back.
At the moment it's Roma who are enjoying the vast majority of possession, but it's mainly on the halfway line. De Rossi is seeing plenty of the ball and is looking to start his team's attacks from the back, but there is very little space for them to exploit in the Juve half.
Totti is very lucky to escape a booking here as he goes in late on Lichtsteiner and leaves the Swiss in a heap on the pitch. The referee does have a long word with him, but decides against brandishing a yellow to the Roma captain.
YELLOW CARD! Totti should have been shown a card moments ago, but there was no way Torosidis was getting with this. He goes in with a high and late tackle on Vidal that could easily warrant a red card, but on this occasion the referee just brings out the yellow.
CHANCE! Juventus very nearly take the lead here as Vidal breaks clear down the right and plays a teasing low ball across the box. Manolas is there to deal with it, but his clearance is only inches away from going into his own net with De Sanctis left helpless.
The visitors have not seen a lot of the ball, but they look the more dangerous side here. They break quickly when Yanga-Mbiwa loses the ball cheaply and get plenty of players forward. It is eventually fed to Evra, who gets to the byline and delivers a great ball across the box, but none of his teammates are there to connect and the hosts finally clear.
It's not often you see a team like Juventus come away from home and just sit behind the ball, but that's exactly what has happened this evening. Allegri's gameplan has worked so far though, as Roma have struggled and have not even had a single attempt on goal.
YELLOW CARD! De Rossi is the second Roma player to pick up a booking for a foul on Morata. It was a cynical kick on the back of the Spaniard and it was probably born more out of frustration than any malice.
It's safe to say that this game is crying out for a goal. Roma are still doing all of the pressing and dictating the play, but there has been no way through the rock solid backline of Juventus.
It's been the same old story for Roma throughout the half, as they are getting deep into Juventus territory before seeing their attacks break down. There has been very little quality in the final pass and the likes of Gervinho and Ljajic really need to do more to test the full backs.
YELLOW CARD! We've seen some poor challenges tonight and Evra goes in from behind on Torosidis and picks up a deserved booking. It has given Roma a free kick in a promising position and Pjanic will whip it into the box.
Pjanic does indeed deliver the free kick, but once again Juventus clear the ball. They really need to do better from those sort of situations as a set piece looks the most likely way of settling tonight's game.
A consistent theme of this first half has been how dangerous Juventus have been on the break. Most of their attacks have come down the right and this time Tevez picks up the ball just inside the Roma half. He then charges towards goal and unleashes a low strike looking for the far corner, but it takes a slight deflection and heads well wide of the target.
HALF-TIME: Roma 0-0 Juventus
Well, that's not what I had in mind at the start of the match. It really has failed to spark into life and we are yet to see even a shot on target in an underwhelming goalless first half.
A quick glance at the statistics shows that Roma are well in control, with 64% of the possession. However, they have done relatively little with the ball and have had just one shot on goal. Juventus have had four attempts and have looked a threat on the counter.
With Roma needing the points tonight, what can they do to change the course of the game? They are finding it incredibly hard to play through this Juventus side and their forward players just aren't doing enough. I wonder if we will see Nainggolan introduced shortly after the break to help add some urgency, while Iturbe, Florenzi and Verde are also options for Garcia.
I feel that I may have jinxed this game by predicting plenty of goals. It is certainly heading towards a stalemate and it would leave Juventus still nine points clear at the top with 13 games left to play.
Roma take the kick off and get the second half started!
CHANCE Juventus have made a bright start to the half and they almost score the opening goal. Torosidis gives the ball away cheaply and Tevez is quick to intercept. He then spots Vidal charging free down the left and the Chilean reaches the edge of the box before looking to drive a shot into the bottom corner, but he just drags his effort and the ball goes narrowly wide of the post.
This is much better from Juventus and Lichtsteiner is the next player to have a strike, with a powerful attempt from just outside the area. It ends up going comfortably wide, but at least we are seeing more of a threat from the champions.
YELLOW CARD! Morata becomes the first player to be shown a card since the break for a clumsy tackle from behind on Yanga-Mbiwa.
YELLOW CARD! We're still waiting for our first shot on goal, but we have seen plenty of bookings, with Pjanic the fifth player this evening to be shown yellow for a foul on Pereyra.
YELLOW CARD! It's another booking, as Yanga-Mbiwa brings down Morata from behind and leaves the referee with little choice.
For two teams that can play such great football on their day, there has been little to suggest we will see any goals today. The visitors have got into the better positions since half time, but on this occasion Lichtsteiner is found in plenty of space before delivering an overhit cross fails to find any of his teammates.
RED CARD! The cards have piled up since the break and it's no surprise that a red has been shown by the referee. Torosidis is the man who is dismissed, as he trips up Vidal who was looking to race through on goal and the referee had no option but to pull out the red card.
GOAL! Roma 0-1 Juventus (Carlos Tevez)
In a game of very little quality, Tevez has just produced a moment of brilliance to give Juventus the lead. From the resulting free kick that Torosidis just gave away, the Argentine stepped up and curled a brilliant effort into the corner that left De Sanctis with no chance. Juventus will now move 12 points clear with a win and it's hard to see how Roma can get back into this.
SUBSTITUTION: Roma have responded to going down to 10 men, as Florenzi comes on for Ljajic.
SHOT! Juventus are looking to put this game out of Roma's reach now and they burst forward at pace with Pereyra slipped in down the left. He cuts inside and drives in a powerful effort, but the ball ends up crashing into the side netting.
YELLOW CARD! Marchisio is the latest in a long list of players to go into the referee's notebook for a foul on Pjanic.
SUBSTITUTION: Roma make their second change of the evening, as Totti heads off to be replaced by Iturbe.
CHANCE! It's taken Roma 72 minutes, but they finally force Buffon into a save. Manolas rises highest to meet a free kick and he looks to direct a header into the bottom corner, but the keeper is there at full stretch to tip the ball behind.
SUBSTITUTION: It's another change for the hosts with Nainggolan replacing De Rossi.
YELLOW CARD! Chiellini is the fourth Juventus player to be shown a card for hacking down Iturbe just outside the box.
GOAL! Roma 1-1 Juventus (Seydou Keita)
What a finale we could be in for now, as against all odds Roma draw level! Florenzi whips a great free kick into the box from the right and Keita rises above everyone at the back post to power in a header that has just enough on it to beat Marchisio on the line.
SHOT! Roma have their tails up now and they sense that they could snatch a winner here. Iturbe has been brilliant since his arrival on the pitch and he does well to get to the edge of the box, before lashing in a strike that goes wide of the post.
SHOT! The hosts continue to press and they certainly don't look like a team that are playing with 10 men. Their substitutes have made a great impact and this time Nainggolan is the man with the strike, and although his effort is well hit, it is straight at Buffon who makes a comfortable stop.
SUBSTITUTION: Juventus make their first change of the evening, with Coman replacing Morata.
YELLOW CARD! It's yet another booking, as Vidal goes in late on Nainggolan and picks up a caution. Nainggolan himself was actually shown a card too for a foul on Marchisio a few minutes ago.
With a couple of minutes of the match left it is still Roma who are well on top and desperately searching for the winner. They are finding space in behind the Juventus defence that just wasn't there before and they really have been so impressive to fight back from a goal and a man down.
SUBSTITUTION: It looked as if Lichtsteiner has been struggling a bit with cramp and he heads off to be replaced by Padoin for the final minutes.
There are going to be three minutes of stoppage time.
FULL-TIME: Roma 1-1 Juventus
The referee blows the final whistle and it has finished all square at the Stadio Olimpico. It means that Juventus have kept their nine-point lead at the top of the table, but there were plenty of positives for Roma who did so well to come back and salvage a point.
Well, that just about does it for our coverage today. Make sure you stay with us for all of the latest breaking news throughout the evening. Until next time, goodbye!