Juventus seek to ruffle Roma in title tilt
ROME, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Juventus will look to show AS Roma on Saturday (1930 GMT) they must watch their backs in the race to challenge leaders Inter Milan for the Serie A title.
Juve have been surprisingly competitive on their return to the top-flight after an enforced spell in Serie B for a match-fixing scandal, but their chances of winning the championship have receded in recent weeks as they fell 12 points behind Inter.
Finishing second and earning automatic qualification for the group stage of the Champions League appears a more attainable target.
Juventus, with 44 points from 22 games, would pull within one of second-placed Roma by beating them in Turin this weekend.
The media have billed the match as a battle between Roma's slick soccer and Juve's character and determination.
Roma defender Christian Panucci insists his side also have plenty of grit allied to their technical ability.
'They are ballsy, but we are pretty ballsy too,' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 'Naturally, if they come in front of us at end, it means we have got something wrong'.
Brazilian defender Juan should be back from a foot injury for Roma.
Coach Luciano Spletti may rest some regulars ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Real Madrid but captain Francesco Totti is expected to play, despite a bad back that has been troubling him in recent weeks.
Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri will be able to call on Guglielmo Stendardo as the defender has served a three-match ban he picked up with Lazio before moving on loan last month.
Inter, who lead Roma by eight points, are without suspended midfielder Patrick Vieira for Saturday's home game against Livorno (1500).
Fifth-place AC Milan will hope to put their bid for a top-four spot and Champions League qualification place back on track on Saturday at Parma (1700) after being held 1-1 by Livorno on Wednesday.
Milan striker Ronaldo will need surgery after suffering a knee ligament injury in the draw. Italian media suggested the injury could put an end to the 31-year-old's career.
Brazilian duo Kaka and Alexandre Pato are on the mend from their respective knee and ankle problems, but they may be saved for next week's visit to Arsenal in the Champions League.
Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf should be able to return from the knock that kept him out of the Livorno game.
Fiorentina, who are a point above Milan in fourth, host Catania on Sunday (1400).