On Wednesday evening, Juventus travelled to the nation’s capital to compete in the Coppa Italia final, and four days after lifting that trophy they will return to take on AS Roma. The Stadio Olimpico will provide the stage for a game which both sides need to take a positive result from as the Bianconeri chase the Serie A title while their hosts are yet to guarantee themselves a berth in the Champions League next term.
Having reached the semifinals of Europe’s elite competition earlier this month, the Giallorossi will undoubtedly be eager to hear its famous theme tune once again in 2018/19, needing just a single point to ensure they finish in the top four and thus qualify directly into the Group Stage.
Meanwhile, Juve also need to earn a draw – or have Napoli drop points against Sampdoria in a game played simultaneously to this one – in order to clinch a seventh consecutive league crown.
As they have many times over the last seven years, Juventus have made a habit of winning when they have to. The aforementioned Coppa Italia final is a prime example, Max Allegri’s men running out 4-0 winners against AC Milan, while they have also swept aside Real Madrid (3-1) and Inter Milan (3-2) in recent weeks.
However, they have also ground out stalemates when that result is good enough too and the circumstances here would see that benefit both sides. The Bianconeri are unbeaten in their last 12 Serie A away games, keeping seven clean sheets over that period while they have shut out opponents a staggering 39 times over the last two seasons.
That tally stands as a league high, but Roma sit second on that list with 30 clean sheets of their own and are unbeaten in their last three home games against Juve. They won each of the last two meetings with the Turin giants, yet they have not managed to claim three consecutive triumphs against them since 1995.
Given all of that, a 0-0 draw not only helps the two teams accomplish their respective goals, it also offers a number of excellent opportunities. Bet365 are only offering odds of 21/10 for a stalemate, but the same site boasts options aplenty for anyone willing to strongly back the game ending goalless, including 15/4 on each half to finish without anyone finding the back of the net and 8/1 on a draw with neither side scoring.
If this game is to be decided either way, then it is likely that it will be Juve – buoyed by their cup win and desperate to complete a fourth consecutive double – who snatch the points. They arrive in excellent form, beating Milan, Inter and Bologna by a wide margin and finally their attacking players have clicked into gear.
Gonzalo Higuain was only named as a substitute for Wednesday night’s outing, coming off the bench only when the game had been decided, yet he has been crucial for the Bianconeri countless times this season. It was his late goal that decided the clash with Inter, while he has weighed in with vital strikes against Milan, Napoli, Fiorentina and Tottenham, scoring 23 times in all competitions.
Yet he has only bagged 16 league goals thus far and has not failed to net at least 17 times in every season since arriving in Serie A back in 2013. While his record in finals has seen him widely ridiculed, Higuain has proven time and again in Italy that he delivers when it matters most, making his odds of 4/1 to score first or 13/10 at anytime with Karamba hugely tempting.
Should that not be lucrative enough, the recent form of Douglas Costa is impossible to ignore. The former Bayern Munich man struck in the cup final, while he has weighed in with three goals and six assists in his last eight appearances. The same site offers 14/1 odds on Costa to grab the first goal against Roma, or 5/1 that he finds the net at any time, both representing excellent value given his rich vein of form.
AS Roma (4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Bruno Peres, Fazio, Manolas, Kolarov; Lo. Pellegrini, Gonalons, Nainggolan; Under, Dzeko, El Shaarawy
Juventus (4-3-3): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Rugani, Benatia, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala, Higuain, Douglas Costa