Tough task for Roma and coach Spalletti at Juventus

MILAN (AP) Roma coach Luciano Spalletti needs to turn things around and fast.

However, if his first match in charge last week should have been one of the easiest, this weekend's is possibly one of the hardest.

The draw against rock-bottom Hellas Verona was met with boos but a similar result at Juventus – which is looking for an 11th consecutive victory – would be a positive result.

''We're expecting a tricky match against an opponent which is full of confidence and is in the middle of a great comeback,'' Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic said. ''It's not by chance they won four successive titles … we'll do our utmost to win.''

Roma has won only one of its past eight matches, slipping to fifth in the table, nine points behind Serie A leader Napoli.

Juventus has climbed up the standings to second, and could move top for the first time this season if Napoli slips up at Sampdoria earlier on Sunday.

Inter is four points behind Napoli and will be looking to capitalize on any mistake from the top two when it hosts relegation-threatened Carpi.

Also Sunday, it's: Fiorentina vs. Torino; Lazio vs. Chievo Verona; Palermo vs. Udinese; Sassuolo vs. Bologna; and Hellas Verona vs. Genoa.

AC Milan visits Empoli on Saturday night, after Frosinone hosts Atalanta.

Here are a few things to know about Serie A entering this weekend's matches:


When proven goalscorer Edin Dzeko arrived at Roma in the summer, he was perceived as the solution to the club's attacking problems.

Roma had scored just 54 goals the previous season – by far the worst of any side in the top six.

Things appeared to be going according to plan when Dzeko opened his Serie A account against Juventus in his second match, but the Bosnia and Herzegovina forward has scored just two league goals since – both penalties.

''When you play in a club which is as important as Roma, it's talked about if you go through a period which isn't brilliant,'' Spalletti said. ''That's what's happening to Edin. But with our squad, we have the ability to manage to help him get himself out of this negative period.''

Dzeko recently posted on his Instagram account a picture with the words ''you have to fight through the bad days in order to earn the best days.''


Juventus is back with a bang.

After spending much of the first half of the season closer to the relegation zone than the title, Massimiliano Allegri's side is now second, just two points off top spot.

''We're focusing on ourselves in the league,'' Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner said after scoring in Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Lazio, which booked the side a spot in the Italian Cup quarterfinals. ''The teams around us are playing well, even Roma isn't out of the title chase yet, but we'll take things game by game.

''It doesn't matter if it's Spalletti or (Rudi) Garcia (in charge of Roma). It is a great squad, and we will prepare for the match like what it is, a battle between two big teams and therefore very difficult.''

Juventus needs just three more victories to match the club record of most consecutive league wins. It won 13 from the 32nd match of the 2013-14 season to the sixth match of the 2014-15 season.

The most successive wins in a single season was 12, in 2013-14.


Dominating matters off the pitch this week has been Inter coach Roberto Mancini's allegations of racism and homophobia from his Napoli counterpart Maurizio Sarri.

Mancini said Sarri shouted anti-gay slurs at him in a touchline spat at the end of Inter's 2-0 win in Tuesday's Italian Cup quarterfinal.

''Those words didn't offend me, but they offended so many people who are made fun of and suffer every day because of these jibes,'' Mancini added the following day.

The row has sparked a debate whether things which are said in the heat of the moment on the pitch should stay on the pitch.

Inter got back to winning ways following a defeat and a draw in the league, which had seen it fall off top spot.