Milan (AFP) – Roma’s Diego Perotti has tipped compatriot Paulo Dybala for a big future but hopes the Juventus starlet is left disappointed after their top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
Juventus, bidding for a record sixth consecutive title this season, play host in Turin on Saturday when a home win would stretch their lead over Roma to seven points.
But defeat would see Roma close to within a point, and although Perotti is full of praise for 23-year-old Dybala, he insists his team can grab the win that would significantly enhance their league title prospects.
“I don’t know him, but from what I’ve seen of him it’s pretty certain he will become one of the best in the world,” Perotti told Sky Italia.
Bought from Juventus in 2015 for 32m euros, Dybala has been one of Massimiliano Allegri’s finest acquisitions since he took the helm from Chelsea-bound Antonio Conte in the summer of 2014.
Perotti added: “You could see he was a quality player who just needed to develop, but I never expected the change he made from Palermo to Juventus.”
While Dybala’s performances have attracted interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, Perotti has made his own positive contribution to Roma since joining Luciano Spalletti’s men on an initial loan spell last February.
Although Roma finished third last campaign, the 28-year-old believes they can win the league title — a feat not achieved since club icon Francesco Totti, thought to be in his final season, led them to triumph in 2001.
“We can do it,” Perotti said. “We’re not far behind and we have a squad equipped to win the scudetto.
“We’ve beaten Napoli, Inter and AC Milan, and a team that does that deserves to.”
But when it comes to beating Italy’s most successful domestic club — Juventus have officially won 32 titles — Roma often flatter to deceive away from home.
They have not beaten Juve in Turin since 2011, and that was an Italian Cup tie.
“Juventus are favourites,” Zdenek Zeman, who was at the helm in the capital until 2013 when Frenchman Rudi Garcia took over and led Roma to two consecutive runner-up places, told Tuttosport newspaper.
“They are favourites because of what they did in the transfer market over the summer. But if Roma cause an upset it could give other rivals ideas.”
If Roma are to claim their first league win over Juventus in Turin since January 2010, they would be helped by Juve’s injury woes.
Defenders Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci are still out injured until the New Year, meaning Juve are without the three-man ‘BBC’ defence that also includes Giorgio Chiellini.
The champions rebounded from a shock 3-1 defeat at Genoa three weeks ago to beat Atalanta 3-1 at home, Torino 3-1 away while securing top spot in their Champions League qualifying group with a 2-0 defeat of Dinamo Zagreb.
But even Juve ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon admits Roma have their chance.
“It’s a surprise for me whenever Roma do slip up because they’re a team who, for many years, have been very strong and very competitive,” Buffon told Sky.
“They have a great coach, great players, lots of experience and, in terms of challenging for the scudetto, they lack nothing.”
Elsewhere, AC Milan host Atalanta on Saturday hoping to make amends for a 1-0 defeat to Roma last week that left them in third place at seven points adrift.
City rivals Inter, at 15 points in arrears, face a tough fixture away to Sassuolo while Napoli, fourth at eight points behind, host Torino at the San Paolo hoping for a win and a Milan slip-up that would see the Azzurri up to third.
Empoli v Cagliari (1400 GMT), AC Milan v Atalanta (1700 GMT), Juventus v Roma (1945 GMT)
Sassuolo v Inter Milan (1130 GMT), Chievo v Sampdoria (1400 GMT), Napoli v Torino (1400 GMT), Pescara v Bologna (1400 GMT), Udinese v Crotone (1400 GMT), Genoa v Palermo (1745 GMT), Lazio v Fiorentina (1945 GMT)
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