Coppa Italia: Juventus vs. Roma Rapid Fire Preview

Valerio Pennicino

In a way, Juventus playing Roma again is a good thing. Why? Because I can basically write the same kind of preview that I did a couple weeks ago and we'd be good to go. (Didn't expect that one now, did ya?)

But since I'm a nice guy and all, I'll update some things. You know, make it interesting and keep you all on your toes. Or at least try to do so.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Serie A action to bring you quite a Coppa Italia showdown — Juventus vs. Roma. What's exactly at stake? A spot in the semifinals, to be exact. Tuesday night in the Italian capital will be the second time in just over two weeks that Juventus and Roma have played one another.

It could be a good thing. It could be a bad thing.

Either way, a spot in the semifinals is up for grabs. That's something we know for sure.

Are you ready for some...SQUAD ROTATION?!?!?!?!

Maybe it's not all about the shuffling of starting lineups come Tuesday night. There is the fact that, regardless of what each starting XI look like, it's Serie A's two best teams facing off against one another at the Olimpico for the first time this season. Even with the anticipated changes in the lineups, it's still Serie A's No. 1 team against its No. 2 team. And for Juve, it's their third straight chance under Antonio Conte to try and get the ever-elusive silver star on the jersey.

I'd like the third time to be the charm. So should you all. Well, maybe you don't feel that way if you root for Roma. But that's probably another discussion for another time. As you were, ladies and gentlemen. On with the preview!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. The anticipated squad Coppa Italia squad rotation.

With the Coppa Italia comes plenty of changes to both teams' lineups. That's no secret to anybody who has followed the competition even the slightest bit lately. But this case is an interesting one. Well, at least to me it is. This isn't just Juventus facing some mid-table Serie A squad. No, no. Juventus is facing a darn good team. Sure, Juve just beat up on Roma a couple weeks ago in Turin. Conte gave us some hints as to who will play against Roma, resting Andrea Pirlo over the weekend against Samp. Other than that, it could be anybody's guess. Oh, the anticipation!

2. How strong of a Roma team Rudi Garcia rolls out.

Other than compliments about Andrea Pirlo and what kind of atmosphere he expects, this is the one meaningful quote Roma's first-year boss said in his pre-match press conference:

"It's a one-off encounter and we have one sole aim: reaching the semi-final. If we want to get there, we'll need to put in a great performance."

Does 'a great performance' translate into throwing out all of your big guns into the starting lineup? Hell if I know. But the Coppa Italia is the one trophy Roma have a legitimate shot at winning this season with Juve up eight points in the Serie A table and show absolutely no signs of slowing down. I guess for a better way of answering my own question, I'll steer you over to Chiesa Di Totti's preview because they talk about the same thing I've been trying to get at.

3. How a rested Andrea Pirlo plays.

Like many players, Andrea Pirlo is at his best when he's fresh. And not fresh like a guy who a slick new hat on, but somebody who has had a couple more days off than he's used to. That was the case for Pirlo, who got a bit more rest against Sampdoria over the weekend. While Claudio Marchisio did a fine job filling in as Juve's regista, there's only one Pirlo. That's the fact, jack. And if there's one thing that has been true over the course of his Juve career, when Pirlo gets a little extra rest, he tends to really have a big impact the following appearance. Let's hope that trend continues, yeah?

4. The look of Juventus' midfield.

Out of all the changes, this may be the most interesting. Sebastian Giovinco and Fabio Quagliarella stepping in for Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez is almost a given, so that won't be all too surprising. But the number of options in Juventus' midfield — and especially the center of the park — don't especially cry out "line change" now, do they? Pirlo's in without a doubt, but does Conte play any of the other regulars? I'm not so sure. That's why he gets paid the big bucks, I guess. Our trust in with you, Mister.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Vidal, Pirlo, Asamoah, Peluso; Quagliarella, Giovinco

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 ON THE WEST COAST

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