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Juventus' schedule after the International Break looked like a daunting task. A task that will give a good indication of what the Old Lady is really capable of. The two games that really stood out were the back-to-back matches against Fiorentina and Roma. The first one was a disaster in which the Bianconeri were lucky to gather a point. The second encounter needed to be different. Juventus had to show the rest of the league that Tuesday's match was just a glitch, and that the team was not going to be distracted by Europe in their quest for another Serie A title... The Bianconeri did exactly that.
After last Tuesday's horror at the Artemio Franchi, Conte must have had a good long "chat" (read scolding) with the players. After all, we all know how our coach feels about being in charge of an uninterested team. Whatever Conte
yelled told at the players worked, because yesterday, Juventus were simply a force of nature (at least for the first 25 minutes of the match).
However, credit should be given were credit is due. Juventus' dominance was in no small part due to Roma's setup and philosophy of play. Roma decided to not mark Pirlo and afford him plenty of space. The result: Pirlo embarrassed the Roma defense and midfield singlehandedly. The rest of the team also stepped up their game. Paolo De Ceglie and Caceres bossed the flanks. Vucinic, Matri, Vidal, and Marchisio broke the offside trap time and again. And lastly, the defense kept the Roma attack at bay without much trouble (until the penalty in the second half).
For the first time this season, Juventus did not take a whole 45 minutes to warm up before destroying the opposition in the second half. No, Juventus played with authority from the 1st minute. After only seven minutes, Matri and Marchisio were unlucky not to get in the end of a Caceres cross. In spite of this, Juventus' dominance continued. Marchisio was clipped by Taddei, and the referee awarded a free kick. Pirlo managed to squeeze the ball through a number of legs finding the back of the net after only 10 minutes of play. The next 10 minutes can be summarized as follows:
Roma try to get one back, Roma loose the ball, Pirlo does his magic, Juventus scores... 2-0 Roma try to get one back, Roma loose the ball, Pirlo does his magic, Juventus scores... 3-0
After 15 minutes, a Roma player handled the ball in the box, and Juventus were given a penalty which Vidal coolly scored. Three minutes later, Vidal's cross found Matri unmarked in the box. Ale, fired straight at Stekelenburg and, in my opinion, was lucky to score the third of the night. The state of the game was such that Zeman's first change came after only 34 minutes. The half ended with Juventus having two other clear chances as Vucinic and Marchisio hit the crossbar.
During the second half, Roma came determined to get something out of the game, and Juventus were already thinking about their midweek Champions League clash. This led to Roma getting their first, and only, goal of the evening. Bonucci needlessly pushed Destro inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Osvaldo sent Buffon the other way decreasing our goal margin to two with plenty of time for Roma to try to get something out of this game. However, unlike a few years ago, Juventus did not crumble. Instead, at the end of the match, Barzagli turned into a right sided Roberto Carlos, and galloped through the flank to then set up Giovinco for the fourth goal of the evening.
Buffon 7.0 He organized his defense well and had nothing to do in the penalty. He also had a few good saves that I am sure demoralized the Roma attack
Barzagli 7.5 Zeman's Roma is supposed to overwhelm the defense with fast vertical attacks. Barzagli was never overwhelmed last night. Dealt coolly with whoever came his way and had an assist.
Bonucci 6.5 His rating is low because he is being compared to a team that worked to perfection. The penalty he conceded was weak, and in 50% of the time would not have been called. Besides that, he read the game well.
Chiellini 7.0 A beast on the left, he is slowly finding his best form.
Caceres 6.5 Took Balzaretti out of the match, and had a few dangerous crosses. He needs to play more to gain his best form.
Vidal 7.5 He had an assist and neutralized the Roma midfield all by himself. 'Nuff said
Marchisio 8.0 He was exactly what Juventus needed today, and what they were missing last Tuesday. He gained the free kick that led to the first goal. He was instrumental in the play that led to the penalty. And, he broke the offside trap more times than I care to count. I wished he would have gotten a goal, he certainly did enough work to deserve it.
Pirlo 8.5 Incredible, masterful, intelligent, committed. Scored a beautiful goal today. If Juventus had Cavani, Pirlo would have had 5 assists.
De Ceglie 7.0 He doesn't have the energy that Asamoah does but is a more than capable replacement for the Ghanian. He run, he crossed, and was involved throughout the game.
Vucinic 7.5 He stretched the Roma defense and was unlucky to hit the crossbar.
Matri 7.0 Yes he scored a goal, but he shot it straight at Stekelenburg. I still don't think he is back to his form of last year. With that being said, he worked hard pressing the Roma defense.
Things I think I think
- A dominant game like that is just what the doctor ordered after the Fiorentina match. Juventus will now host Shaktar with a team full of confidence, willing to demonstrate what they can do in Europe
- I give Conte full credit for this win. He not only prepared the team well, but also motivated them to go for the jugular and close the match as soon as possible.
- Paul Pogba is slowly growing into this team. He is nothing like Pirlo, but if he continues at this rate, he can be just as instrumental as Andrea for this team
- If Pirlo was instrumental in winning the tittle last year, Marchisio is going to be instrumental in winning the tittle this year. Il Principino is cementing his place as one of the leaders of this team. Without him, Juve loose not only a great player, but a person that pushes those around him to give their best.
- The Champions League song will play for the first time in the new Juventus Stadium in a matter of days. I couldn't be more excited.
- Lamela is an idiot
- Napoli are going to be a tough opponent in this scudetto race, I am looking forward to our clash in 20 days (let's hope Prandelli gives some rest to Pirlo and Marchisio during the International Break).
They say all roads lead to Rome, apparently the one through Turin comes with four goals included. The almighty attacking Roma crashed against a black and white wall and were unable to trouble Juve for 90 minutes. Instead, their disorganized midfield and defense gave Juventus the opportunity to close down the match after only 20 minutes of play. With Matri scoring, Pirlo back at his best, and Marchisio dominating defense and attack, Juventus can look forward to Europe this coming week.