Juventus marked the beginning of 2022 with a 1-1 draw against a depleted Napoli side on Thursday night. The result left a feeling of indifference among Juventus supporters and I, for one, was unsure how to react.
Juve’s performance offered signs of hope but it was a display ultimately undermined by teething issues that lingered during the first half of the season. For many, it’ll feel like two points dropped and Juve’s blown opportunity has inflated the importance of Sunday’s trip to Rome considerably.
AS Roma play host the Bianconeri on Sunday having lost to AC Milan in the week. The Giallorossi were pitiful for the most part on Thursday and they’ll be looking for a swift response by claiming a statement win against the league’s once all-conquering force.
Juventus’ predicted starting XI vs AS Roma
In terms of team selection, Massimiliano Allegri has been boosted by several returns with Alex Sandro being the only fresh injury concern. The manager must smartly manage the minutes of his key stars with the Supercoppa on the horizon, but Sunday’s bout is one in which he can ill-afford to rest his protagonists.
As a result, Sunday’s team is a tricky one to predict, but this is what we think he’ll go for.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – While he could’ve done better with the goal, Szczesny produced a fine performance against Napoli and he’ll retain his place between the posts on Sunday.
Mattia De Sciglio (RB) – Juan Cuadrado had trouble dealing with the crafty Lorenzo Insigne and I think we’ll see De Sciglio from the outset in this one. The versatile Italian earned minutes off the bench last time out.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – Imperious on Thursday, De Ligt’s a shoo-in to start against AS Roma where he’ll face the duel-threat of Tammy Abraham and Nicolo Zaniolo. I can’t wait to see how that battle plays out.
Daniele Rugani (CB) – Juventus revealed on Friday that Giorgio Chiellini has recovered from COVID-19 meaning he’ll be available for Sunday. However, his condition isn’t thought to be optimal and with Rugani impressing on Thursday, I think we’ll see the once unfavoured Italian retain his place in the starting XI.
Luca Pellegrini (LB) – Juve desperately missed Pellegrini’s dynamism on Thursday, but the left-back’s back in contention after missing the Napoli game due to illness. With Alex Sandro picking up a knock and out for Sunday, Pellegrini’s a sure bet to start.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Locatelli looked at ease in the single-pivot against Napoli and he should continue in that role against Roma. However, the Italian’s minutes will have to be managed amid a hectic run of fixtures. They can’t let him burn out as he did in the first half of the season.
Weston McKennie (CM) – McKennie produced a mixed bag on Thursday but he certainly did more than the anonymous Adrien Rabiot. The American played a big role in Juve’s first goal of 2022 and an interior function in the 4-3-3 suits his skill set.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – Bentancur replaced Rabiot in the week and I expect him to start this weekend. While the Uruguayan lacks the technical security of the Frenchman, his energy and intensity are two notable attributes. Alongside McKennie, the pair could work in tandem to disrupt Roma’s vulnerable build-up.
Federico Bernardeschi (RW) – Dejan Kulusevski is an option for Allegri here, as is Paulo Dybala, but with the former yet to garner the trust of the boss and the latter not quite at 100%, I think Bernardeschi will keep his place in the team. Chiesa’s return meant Old Juve’s December Player of the Month was more subdued on Thursday.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Morata’s work ethic alone will probably keep him in the XI for Sunday. His showing in possession simply wasn’t up to scratch, but he’ll have the chance to make the most of a vulnerable Roma defence at the weekend. RUN THE CHANNELS!
Federico Chiesa (LW) – What a thrill it was to watch this man for the first time since November on Thursday. Chiesa marked his return with a goal amid a hugely encouraging performance. The Italian fatigued considerably late on, but I expect Allegri to start him on Sunday with the view of taking him off in the second half.