The reception that no professional expects to have

MILAN-. Three people will have a special welcome when Roma visit Juventus in Serie A on Saturday.

Roma coach José Mourinho and striker Romelu Lakaku are sure to get a hostile reception in Turin, while former Juve striker Paulo Dybala will get a warmer welcome — if the Argentine is fit to make the trip.

Mourinho led Juve’s rival Inter Milan to a hat-trick of titles — domestic league, Champions League and Italian Cup — in 2010 and the coach has reacted in the past to comments from Bianconeri fans raising three fingers, in reference to the triplet.

Lukaku, for his part, was the subject of racist comments from some of the Juventus fans in the Cup semi-final in April when he was an Inter player and received a yellow card and was sent off for his reaction towards the home fans when he scored. a penalty in added time – and which led to a brawl between both teams.

However, Lukaku – surprisingly – almost signed with Juve this summer, but the proposed agreement with Chelsea, the club that has his rights, was scrapped when striker Dušan Vlahovi decided to stay with the Bianconeri.

All this will increase the tension in what is already expected to be a lively match on Saturday. Juventus, which is second, is fighting hard for the Serie A title and is four points behind Inter, who visits Genoa on Friday.

Roma recovered from a difficult start to the season and last week’s 2-0 victory over champions Napoli left them three points behind fourth-place Bologna. Mourinho’s team is 16 points behind Inter.

“It’s not critical, but we have a group of players with a complicated injury history,” Mourinho said. “If we had everyone involved in the game I would have no problem saying that we can fight with everyone — not for the title, but the first four.”

Dybala’s most recent problem is a groin problem which he suffered in the 1-1 draw against Fiorentina on December 10 and the 30-year-old was expected to be available until the new year. But he returned to training this week and could be available on Sunday.

If he travels to Turin, his former fans are expected to applaud him – as happened the previous season.

Dybala spent seven years with Juve, scoring 115 goals and 48 assists in almost 300 games. He also helped them win 12 trophies, including five in Serie A.

But he fell out of favor with coach Massimiliano Allegri following Vlahovi’s arrival in January 2022 and Dybala left the team when his contract expired months later.