Roma visits Juventus in top-of-table Serie A clash
ROME (AP) — The moods of Roma and Juventus couldn’t be more different ahead of their top-of-the-table clash this weekend.
Roma is euphoric following a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Manchester City in the Champions League while Juventus is despondent after conceding a late goal in a 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid.
But both sides bring perfect league records into Sunday’s match at the Juventus Stadium and have designs on taking control of Serie A.
Also this weekend, Udinese — which is three points behind the leaders — hosts Cesena. Meanwhile, Inter Milan visits Fiorentina and AC Milan faces Chievo Verona at the San Siro.
Here are some things to know entering the sixth round of the Italian league:
TIMELESS TOTTI: Francesco Totti’s equalizer at City made him the oldest scorer in Champions League history at 38 and Roma is reportedly considering extending his contract so that he could become the oldest outfield player in Serie A history.
Excluding goalkeepers, former AC Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta was the oldest player to appear in Serie A at 41 years and 25 days before he retired in 2007.
Totti’s current contract is due to expire in 2016 when he’ll be 39. Roma apparently wants to add a couple more years to the deal and enable to Totti play in a new stadium that Roma is about to build.
With 235 goals in Serie A, Totti is second on the all-time list behind Silvio Piola, who played from 1929-54 and scored 274 goals.
MISSING THE TARGET: Juventus controlled 61 percent of the possession against Atletico but didn’t produce a single shot on goal.
“If we want to get our diploma in Europe we need to risk more,” Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “We need to analyze ourselves and improve.”
The loss ended Juve’s streak of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions, dating back to last season.
Still, Juve has not conceded a goal in five Serie A matches this season, which is a record start.
PIRLO PREPARES: Juventus passing wizard Andrea Pirlo is preparing to return from a month out with a bruised right hip.
The midfield maestro is expected to be on the bench for the match against Roma and could enter in the second half.
Juve’s center back Andrea Barzagli is still out injured and midfielder Romulo is out for a month following a hernia operation.
Roma has deeper injury problems, with midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman plus defenders Davide Astori and Leandro Castan all out and goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis doubtful.
De Sanctis missed the Madrid match with a gluteal muscle tear and Polish backup Lukasz Skorupski performed well in his absence.
Roma forward Juan Iturbe returned from an injured groin against Atletico and could start in Turin.
LEGAL DEFENDER: Atalanta center back Guglielmo Stendardo has passed his legal exams and is now a full-fledged attorney.
He says the oral exams were tougher than defending forwards like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Arjen Robben or Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“That’s a tough task but at least you have a team helping you. When you’re facing a panel of five lawyers you don’t have many options,” Stendardo told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
Stendardo ran into trouble with his club when he skipped a match against Roma two years ago to take an exam but there are no problems now with coach Stefano Colantuono.
“He’s an intelligent guy,” Colantuono said. “He’s been able to pursue both careers with dedication and character.”
Stendardo is planning to enter sports law and work with his fellow players.
Atalanta visits Sampdoria on Sunday.
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf