A testing month continues for the Serie A champions as they welcome AS Roma to Juventus Stadium on Saturday, a fixture that comes on the heels of some truly difficult games.
As well as negotiating their path to the Champions League knockout rounds, the Bianconeri have faced bitter rivals Inter and Fiorentina, taken on neighbours Torino in a derby and visited San Siro to take on AC Milan since the start of November.
However, they have won every single one of those games, moving eight points clear at the top of the standings thanks to seven consecutive victories.
“Everyone wants to beat us but we're still unbeaten,” midfielder Blaise Matuidi told JTV earlier this week. “We have to keep working away. There's not long to go till the break so we just have to keep it up.”
As they look to stop the Old Lady doing just that, Roma have struggled and currently occupy seventh place, some 22 points behind Juve after tasting victory in just two of their last eight outings.
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That has led to discontent among the fanbase and Sporting Director Monchi flew out to America this week for talks with owner James Pallotta who admitted in a statement on the club website that he is far from happy.
“We had a very productive three days together in Boston discussing both the football and business activities of the club,” wrote Pallotta.
“It goes without saying that no one at the club is happy with the results and performances so far this season and we had an open and honest conversation about issues that we need to address and improve as a matter of urgency to get our season back on track.”
Roma may well have been planning their route back to success, but standing in their way on Saturday is a formidable foe who has enjoyed encounters with the Giallorossi in recent years.
Indeed, Juve have won their last seven home games against the Capital-based club, moving their total number of victories to 80, more than they have managed against any other side in Serie A.
Things get no better for Roma in the present either, Eusebio Di Francesco’s men winning just one of their last seven away games in the league and conceding in all but one of those matches too.
Meanwhile Juve – who have high hopes of completing a treble this season – have kept more clean sheets (21) in the 2018 calendar year than any team in Europe’s top five leagues.
As a result, it is no surprise that the best price available on a Juventus win here is 9/20 with Betway, so it may also be worth considering having a bet on a Bianconeri win but with only one team scoring, an outcome that is available at 6/5 with the same bookmaker.
While Juve’s defensive prowess has been clearly evident, they have rarely doled out heavy drubbings this term, scoring more than two goals only twice in their last 13 games in all competitions.
The same is true of Roma, who have yet to score more than twice in any away game this term, while the last six games between the two teams have seen a total of just nine goals.
17 - There were just 17 goals scored in Serie A on matchday 16, the fewest netted on a single matchday in the competition since MD32 of last season (13 goals). Deficiency.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 19, 2018
Those factors combine to make it likely that this will be a low scoring encounter, making 888Sport’s odds of 17/16 on under 2.5 goals well worth backing.
That Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to find the back of the net is hardly a surprise, but it must be noted that he already has an excellent record against the Giallorossi despite this being his first season in Serie A.
Indeed, during his time with Manchester United and Real Madrid, the Portugal international faced Roma in the Champions League on no fewer than six occasions, registering an impressive five goals and two assists in those games.
With 11 league goals to his name – a tally that puts him one behind Serie A’s leading scorer Krzysztof Piatek (Genoa) – Ronaldo will certainly be looking to get on the score sheet again against a familiar foe.
Paddy Power are currently offering odds of 3/1 on Ronaldo scoring the first goal of the game with Roma and have him priced at 8/11 to find the net at any point in the match, both hugely tempting offers given his pedigree.
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