Cristiano Ronaldo vs Federico Fazio
As expected, Cristiano Ronaldo has been banging in the goals for Juventus. The Bianconeri’s record signing has settled in well, finding the net 11 times and assisting five.
While Federico Fazio can neutralize Ronaldo’s aerial threat, can he contend with him with the ball on the ground? That will be the question on di Francesco’s mind. The Argentine is doing very well in the clearances department but his lack of speed can be ruthlessly exposed by Ronaldo. The Portuguese still can dribble well in the final third and possesses breathtaking speed to lose his marker. Fazio will be in for a long and arduous night in Turin.
Miralem Pjanic vs Steven Nzonzi
All of Juventus’ brilliance in attack is due to the passing prowess of Miralem Pjanic. The Bosnian midfield general is the metronome in the middle of the park, facilitating play. His numbers are not otherworldly but that is because he is the origin point of moves that result in goals.
The key to stopping Pjanic is to not allow him too much time on the ball. For Roma, the man tasked to do the same will be Steven Nzonzi. The Frenchman does have the size advantage over the Bosnian and is averaging decent defensive numbers. His lack of pace, however, is the biggest disadvantage as Pjanic has it in him to get the ball moving quickly. To counter that, Nzonzi will have to stick close to his man to allow him as little time as he can.
Alex Sandro vs Cengiz Under
We’ve talked about the lack of pace of Fazio and Nzonzi. To offset that, di Francesco can call upon his wingers who are lightning quick.
Cengiz Under, despite Roma’s shortcomings, is managing a productive season on the offensive end. The Turk has scored two goals and given three assists. His blistering pace, with and without the ball, will be a tough prospect to deal with for Alex Sandro.
What can work against the Brazilian full-back is his tendency to go forward. In case of a counter-attack, Under can easily outrun Sandro which will open up a big gap in Juve’s defense. In all likelihood, however, chances like this will be far and few in the 90 minutes.