Serie A Preview: Roma and Juventus out to maintain perfect starts

22 September 2014 15:41

Leaders Roma face their on-song former striker Antonio Cassano as Parma aim to spoil one of two 100 per cent records in Serie A on Wednesday.

With Morgan De Sanctis, Kostas Manolas, Radja Nainggolan and Alessandro Florenzi starring, Roma have won their first three league games without conceding a goal.

Extending that run at Parma will not be easy, though, with Cassano – who left Roma in 2006 after five years at the club – having scored three goals in his last two games.

Champions Juventus are the other side with a maximum haul of points so far and Roma coach Rudi Garcia knows his charges are up against it in their bid to stay top of the pile.

“We tried to reduce the gap from Juventus over the summer,” said Garcia, whose side finished 17 points behind the Turin giants in 2013-14. “We’ve started well but we have to stay focused.”

Roma have lost just one of their last 18 meetings with Parma in all competitions.

Juventus, for their part, have never suffered defeat by Cesena in their eight encounters. With Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez thriving, Massimiliano Allegri’s team are hot favourites to make it four wins from four.

“The indications from the start of the season are that it is between Juve and Roma,” said Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta, before praising his coach: “He is a winner, a great leader.”

Allegri chose to deflect the plaudits to his team. He said: “Our positive start has been deserved by my players. When you have talented players as I do, everything is easier. However, we still have room for improvement.”

Verona, two points off the pace, are at home to Genoa in a match in which the hosts’ 37-year-old striker Luca Toni will face one of his 14 former clubs, while seventh-placed Sampdoria entertain struggling Chievo.

Milan, in fourth, are away to second-bottom Empoli in Tuesday’s only fixture. Despite a 1-0 loss at home to Juventus on Sunday, Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi will have taken encouragement from another fine performance from Jeremy Menez, and Fernando Torres’ return from injury as a second-half substitute.

Fifth-placed Udinese visit Lazio in the one game on Thursday, while sixth-placed Inter take on Atalanta, who are one point below their hosts, a day earlier.

Fiorentina welcome lowly Sassuolo to Florence hoping Juan Cuadrado can continue his sparkling form and Mario Gomez can end his goal drought.

Rafael Benitez is under pressure after his Napoli team, who face Palermo, were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League qualifying round and have suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses in Serie A.

Napoli have won their last four matches against the Sicilians, scoring 11 goals and conceding just one in the process.

Finally, Cagliari host Torino, who have failed to score in their last four games in all competitions, in a battle between two teams who are yet to win this term.