By 90Min
May 12, 2018

Roma will host Juventus in Sunday's clash between two Serie A giants, which may prove to be far more important for the hosts than for the visitors - although the importance of the match depends on how fifth-placed Inter fare at home against Sassuolo on Saturday.

If Inter lose, Roma will join Juve and SSC Napoli in next season's UEFA Champions League, irrespective of the result at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. However, if Inter and Lazio win and Roma fail to defeat Juve, it will still be possible for Lazio and Inter to edge Roma out of the top four - and into next season's Europa League - in the final weekend of the Serie A season.

Juve are under no such pressure, having all but won their seventh successive Scudetto already - I Bianconeri are six points clear of second-placed Napoli and have a vastly superior goal difference. Nevertheless, if Napoli defeat Sampdoria and Juventus lose to Roma on Sunday, the Turin side will need to wait until the final weekend of the season to be mathematically confirmed as champions.

Roma are 18 points behind the champions-elect in the league, but may take heart from the fact that they went one better than the Turin side in the Champions League. Both sides made stirring comebacks against La Liga opponents in their respective quarter-finals, but Roma eliminated Barcelona, while Juventus were controversially thwarted in added time against Real Madrid.

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After stumbling to a 1-0 defeat against title rivals Napoli, Juventus quickly got back on track with a 3-2 win over Inter at the San Siro, followed by a 3-1 home win over Bologna. They also hammered AC Milan 4-0 in Wednesday's Coppa Italia final.

Nevertheless, the hosts will no doubt be encouraged by some aspects of the Serie A leaders' recent performances. As well as being poor against Napoli, Juve were abysmal for much of the second half of the Inter game, needing two late goals to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

Meanwhile, Roma are enjoying a rich vein of form - they won their last four Serie A matches and two of their last three Champions League matches. Unfortunately for I Giallorossi, the other one was their 5-2 drubbing by Liverpool at Anfield, which ultimately cost them a place in the final.

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Roma may have to do without three first team regulars against Juve. Centre-back Kostas Manolas - who sensationally scored the winner against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final - has a thigh strain, winger Diego Perotti is recovering from a sprained ankle, and midfielder Kevin Strootman is carrying a rib injury.

On-loan forward Grégoire Defrel is another injury doubt, while right back Rick Karsdorp is ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury.

According to the latest reports, Juventus' squad is currently injury-free. The only potential area of concern for Massimiliano Allegri is that some of his players could be affected by fatigue after playing in Wednesday's Coppa Italia final.

Classic Encounter: Roma 2-1 Juventus (2015)

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Juventus may be on the brink of their seventh successive Serie A title, but they haven't always had it easy in the last seven seasons. In fact, they made the worst possible start to their Scudetto defence in 2015, losing their opening two matches - the second of which was a fiery clash with Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, in which Juve had two players sent off.

Even when they still had eleven men on the pitch, the visitors were overrun in midfield, with Paul Pogba looking isolated and ineffectual. It came as no surprise when Roma took the lead through an excellent Miralem Pjanić free kick in the 61st minute.

18 minutes later, after both Rubinho and Patrice Evra had seen red for the visitors, Edin Džeko headed Roma into what looked like an unassailable lead.

Incredibly, despite being outplayed and down to nine men, Juve still rallied, and Paulo Dybala halved the deficit with a late strike. Leonardo Bonucci almost rescued a point for the reigning champions in added time, but Wojciech Szczęsny made a superb save to keep out his header.

At the time, it looked as if Juve's era of dominance might have come to an end, after they'd sold three of their key players in the summer - Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.

And yet, nearly three years later, Juve still reign supreme in Italy.

Predicted Result

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As they proved against Inter when the Scudetto was on the line, Juventus are past masters at getting a result when they need one, even if their performance is lacklustre at best. However, they may find it a little more challenging to motivate themselves this time - only two thumping Napoli wins and two exceptionally heavy Juve defeats would see the reigning champions surrender their title now.

Roma will have a far greater incentive to win, at least if Inter and Lazio pick up three points on Saturday - in this scenario, only a win over Juve at the Stadio Olimpico will guarantee Champions League qualification for Roma. Otherwise, the race for top-four places will go down to the final weekend of the season.

Nevertheless, Eusebio Di Francesco's side are missing three key players, whereas Allegri will have a full squad to choose from.

All things considered, a draw seems to be the likeliest result.

Prediction: Roma 1-1 Juventus

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