As if the footballing rivalry between Juventus and Roma were not compelling enough, you could bill this match-up as a derby between Italy's official and industrial capitals. Together with the Milan clubs, Turin-based Juve represent the pride of the north, an economic powerhouse to which workers have long flocked from the south. Roma, meanwhile, are the most successful club not hailing from the top of the country and the darlings of the Eternal City, though the surrounding Lazio region tends to be a stronghold of their local rivals of the same name.
The two clubs' roll call of trophies may not be comparable, but Italian football has been peppered with pivotal matches between the pair. The rivalry has only intensified over the last couple of seasons, in which Juventus and Roma have been head and shoulders above the rest, turning Serie A into a two-horse race.
Facts and figuresJuventus boast by far the more illustrious history, having won the league 28 times, not to mention three UEFA Europa Leagues and two UEFA Champions Leagues and Intercontinental Cups apiece. Roma, on the other hand, can point to three Scudetti, nine Italian Cups (the same number as Juventus) and a single Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (a predecessor to the Europa League); they have also twice lost in European finals, including once in the continent's premier club competition.
La Vecchia Signora *(the Old Lady) also have the edge in head-to-head encounters, having notched up 82 victories in 173 meetings, to 48 draws and 42 Roma triumphs. This record makes even more one-sided reading if we only consider fixtures played on Juventus territory: in 86 home contests between the pair, the *Bianconeri have chalked up 54 wins, 22 draws and just 11 defeats. The most common scoreline down the years has been a 1-1 draw, a result registered ten times.
Sport Club Juventus were founded by a group of students on 1 November 1897. They underwent five name changes before finally settling on one that stuck, Juventus Football Club, at the beginning of the 1945/46 season. The third oldest club in Italy, Juve really came to the fore after being taken over on 24 July 1923 by Edoardo Agnelli, a football-mad Piedmontese industrialist who was the heir to the Fiat empire. Since then, the club has always been run by business leaders from the north, while remaining extremely popular among the working classes nationwide, largely owing to the spread of Fiat factories. Some historians even describe the club's rise as a symbol of burgeoning Italian identity.
Roma were relative latecomers to the upper echelons of Italian football. They are the offshoot of a splintered footballing landscape whereby there were no fewer than eight Rome-based teams in the regional top flight in 1922, a state of affairs that had prevented a genuine local force from emerging. So, on 7 June 1927, three of the capital's biggest outfits, Alba-Audace, Fortitudo and Roman, officially merged to give rise to the club in its current form.
Tales of derbies past
The very first Serie A meeting between the two teams took place on 29 January 1928 at the Stadio di Corso Marsiglia. Juventus, the hosts, made their greater pedigree count and cruised to a 3-0 triumph thanks to a brace from Giuseppe Galluzzi and a Federico Munerati strike.
Matches between the Turin giants and the Giallorossi have often sparked fierce controversy. None more so than the title decider on 10 May 1981, when a 0-0 stalemate handed Juventus their 19th Scudetto, but only because a Roma goal was ruled out for offside, which later proved to have been flagged incorrectly.
The likes of Agostino Di Bartolomei, the Brazilian Falcao, Pietro Vierchowod, Roberto Pruzzo, Bruno Conti, Gabriel Batistuta, Vincenzo Montella and Marco Delvecchio have all lit up the fixture for the Rome side in days past. However, it is the veteran local boy made good, 38-year-old Francesco Totti – who has spent his entire career at the Stadio Olimpico – that has proved to be the club's talisman both against Juventus and in general.
Luis Monti, Omar Sivori, Giampiero Boniperti, Gaetano Scirea, Dino Zoff, Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zbigniew Boniek, Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved and Alessandro Del Piero are among the Juve stars to have graced this game. Fittingly, two old-timers are currently the leaders in the Old Lady dressing room: goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon, who became club captain at the princely age of 34, and evergreen midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo.
The rivalry today
After three glittering seasons domestically under Antonio Conte, who took over as Italy coach at the beginning of this campaign, Juventus are now gunning for Champions League glory, though they remain keen not to drop the ball in the league. New boss Massimiliano Allegri has largely adopted an 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy, continuing to build the side around the exceptional midfield talents of Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal. However, as shown by the recent 1-0 Champions League defeat away at Atletico Madrid, which ended Juve's unbeaten start to the season, this team of serial winners remain prone to stumbling when the stakes are highest, especially in Europe.
Over at Roma, Rudi Garcia is focused on instating a quicker, more direct style of play in which Totti and Miralem Pjanic act as the creative fulcrums behind Côte d'Ivoire speedster Gervinho.
The two clubs go into the game locked at the summit of the Serie A table after both winning their opening five matches,* Juve *without letting in a single goal (their aggregate scoreline so far is 10-0) and Roma having conceded just once (9-1). However, the Romans have been clinically dispatched on their past three visits to the Juventus Stadium (3-0, 4-1 and 4-0) and will still be smarting from last season's encounter, in which they bossed proceedings but were picked off three times on the counter-attack.