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Veni Vidi Vici: Roma 0-2 Juventus

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That phrase is so overused. Overused, in that we keep coming to Rome, and kicking the crap out of them. Since our 4-0 loss to Totti/Cassano back in 2003-2004, we have not lost in Rome. In fact, we have a rather stellar record of 5 wins and 1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico di Roma, with two 4-1 results in there. The team was a bit shaky with the loss of Buffon, Del Piero, and Chiellini, but it ended up a typical Roma-Juve game. And that ends in 3 Bianconeri points.

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Marco flanked by Brazzo/Grygera- "Hey, what'd you two do today?"

Could not have been any more stereotypical, right? Roma starts out brightly, playing 4-2-3-1, assaulting our goal. When it doesn't go in, thanks to some miracle saves from Marco Storari, the Roman mentality kicks in- they despair. Some teams fight back when they go 1-0 down, they didn't. Our mentality is a little different; this was an old-school Juventus performance, where we didn't play the best, but we capitalized on our chances, and they didn't. That's essentially the story.

This result was very important from a morale standpoint, important as well looking at the table, as Udinese and Lazio both lost this weekend, but it doesn't mean we're back into the Champion's League hunt, we threw away far too many points in January and February to consider that a possibility. We may finally be getting out of a funk, and a home match against a pretty terrible Genoa could serve as more chicken soup to rehabilitate the squad. This was our 3rd victory in a row against Roma in the capital...could it lead to our first 3 victories in a row this season?

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BEAST.

LE PAGELLE:

Storari: 8- My goodness, what a game from Marco Storari. If he wanted to prove that he deserves the starting gloves for now, he could not have done it any better. Pulled up 3 goal-saving tremendous saves in the first half, and all credit for last night's win and clean sheet go to Marco. We could have easily gone into the half 2-0 down, and who knows what would have happened there?

Motta: 6- A vast improvement on what we've seen thus far, managed to contain Mirko well enough for the most part. Occasionally gave Vucinic too much space to cross, didn't even try and block his cross for Totti at the far post.
Bonucci: 6- Typical Bonucci performance- a bit too casual with the ball at times, but once he cut out the nonsense, was a solid showing at the back.
Barzagli: 6.5- A good performance from the ex-Palermo man. Covered the backline well. Playing-wise, he compliments Bonucci well, they just need to work on their partnership and moreso, one needs to assert themselves as leader of the backline.
Grosso: 7- By far Fabio's best ever performance in Bianconero, as a result, the whole team is spending time at the tanning machines in Vinovo today. For the most part, he kept Menez quiet in defense, and was tremendous up top, pulling in two fantastic assists and nearly scoring himself. Good work Fabio- now take the rest of the season off.

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Marchisio: 6.5- An all-action performance from the Juventus captain. Worked hard in defense, carried the ball well, and all-in-all, helped to control the midfield. I felt in a pure 3-man midfield, he got a lot more space than normal, and did well with it. When Pepe or Krasic carried the ball up the pitch, they passed it right to the opposition. Claudio's got a very cool head, even when he goes on a 40 yard run, he makes an intelligent pass at the end.
Felipe Melo: 7- Rock solid performance from the returned midfielder- as Adam mentioned on last week's podcast, Melo always seems to play his best against Roma. Played relatively deep, almost a defender at times, and never put a foot wrong. There was a point where he was dribbling with the ball under pressure from two Roma players, and I feared a Melo-of-old foolish turnover. Instead, he calmly passed it straight back to Storari. A very tactically disciplined performance.
Aquilani: 5.5 I was rather disappointed with Aquilani's performance, perhaps the jeers of the Roma crowd got to him. In the first half, his passing was rather poor, failing to meet its target or forcing the player to take it wide. As Roma ceded the midfield in the 2nd half, Albertino grew into the match, but still all in all, a rather down performance.

Krasic: 6- I'm surprised by some of the glowing reviews that Milos is getting for the match, Datasport gives him a 7.5 and calls him "looking like the Milos of old." There were three real positives about his performance- he saw a lot of the ball, was getting into excellent positions to receive the ball, and opened the scoring with a well struck right-footed volley. There were plenty of negatives too- he was frequently wasteful with the ball, either preferring to shoot (when others, say Pepe, were standing ready to run onto it) or making a 40-50 yard run only to pass it straight to Roma. He can be one-dimensional at times, switching flanks with Pepe helped, but he's gotta continue developing.
Matri: 6.5- Worked hard as a lone striker. For most of the first half, he was relatively isolated and I was calling for someone to play as a seconda punta to try and support him. Excellent run to go 1v1 beating the offside trap, and cool as ice as he placed it right between Doni's legs to kill off the game. Including his Italy debut, Matri has 7 goals in 10 games since joining Juve in January. He also scored 11 goals for Cagliari in the first half of the season. In tremendous form.
Pepe: 6- Again asked to play a different role, Simone worked his ass off running up and down the pitch. Had a great turn and shot that Doni saved, but otherwise doesn't look too clinical up top. Still think he should be experimented with as a fullback, he could be great there.

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This is starting to get a bit creepy.

Delneri: 6- Hard to give him a rating here- if it weren't for Storari's miracles, we might be back in crisis, with finger-pointing all around. The formation was a decent, but not great one. Not because of the individual errors that led to Storari making those magnificent saves, but because we didn't look too deadly up top until Rome pushed forward and conceded more and more space. Their desperation led to our win.
Salihamidzic: 10- He lives!
Sorensen: s.v.- Thrown on as a cameo.

Things I Think I Think:
#1- One good game does not a fullback make: Funny as hell that Grosso and Motta have decent games, and neither of them have the opportunity to repeat it next week- Grosso is suspended for yellow card accumulation, and Motta of course was injured. I don't think either of them would have had a good game against Genoa anyways, so it's a blessing both happened. I nearly threw my laptop out the window when I saw them lining up against Roma. One good performance doesn't change the fact that they're both shit and need to leave this summer.

#2- Marco Storari proves his worth, puts Delneri in a pickle: You may recall I argued a few weeks ago that Marco Storari should be starting ahead of Gianluigi Buffon right now. I was met with ridicule, but Buffon has gone on to make more errors, and Storari pulled off a blinder of a match against Roma. Note I never said that Gigi should be sold, it was only until the team started racking up enough points that we could reintroduce Gigi. Storari's performance was enough to make Delneri a bit uncomfortable, and then he followed up with this throw down after the match.

“Only a blind person can’t see what I am doing and I hope the Coach is not blind,” he stated at the Olimpico. "Will I move to Roma instead of Buffon? I have never hidden the fact that I am a Roma fan, but the truth is that I am happy at Juventus and I want to earn some space here.”

I think there's no doubt he's irritated that Delneri made a lot of fuss about meritocracy before Buffon returned, and then ended up immediately benching him anyways. That's a serious challenge from Marco though, implying that he wants the #1 gloves. Delneri responded afterwords- "I know what Marco said, we spoke, and he knows I respect him. I understand it's difficult to sit on the bench, and that he deserves to play, but he has a great champion like Buffon ahead of him, today he demonstrated that he's a great professional and a great man. I hope he stays for a long time at Juventus even if he's not playing."

To me, that's Delneri saying "Thanks Marco, but Gigi is still our #1." I don't think Storari will be too happy to hear that, and considering the great form he's in, I really don't know if he'll stay this summer. At his age, he's still got 2-3 years at the top level left, and he's been kind of a late bloomer, he might want his time in the limelight. With Manninger's contract expiring and leaving in almost all certainty, we might go from having 3 tremendous keepers to one. But there's no doubt in my mind, if Storari wants to be #1, he will have to leave Juventus. I will wish him well, I have become a big fan of his.

#3- Is the formation change behind the result? No: A lot of people said hallelujah when they saw us line up with a 4-5-1, or a 4-3-3 depending on your view. Like I said on Delneri's rating, we could be having a very different discussion right now. Offensively, it didn't work very well, and it took Mexes' injury and an increasingly desperate Roma before we got in a goal. Is Delneri's "typical" 4-4-2 a real 4-4-2? No. Did this formation change revolutionize us? Again, no.

#4- I love Mauro Camoranesi. I also love David Trezeguet. Shame they didn't get what they deserve. Juve has a bad history of booting out our legends.

#5- La Stampa was on one hell of an NBA kick: "Fabio Grosso made dazzling assists, he seemed like a calcio-version of Magic Johnson. Felipe Melo planted himself square in the area like Shaquille O'Neill, marking "return to sender" for all of Totti's shots." Wow. Is it the playoffs or something?

THE JUVENTUS OFFSIDE SHITLIST
- Gigi Delneri- Two wins help. Get a third.
- Jonathan Zebina: (Lifetime Award)
- Marco Motta: (2 weeks) Hasn't done enough to get him off the list.
- Vincenzo Iaquinta: (Seasonal)
- Giuseppe Marotta: Mauro and David, really? You douchebag.

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It's all about the tan, man.

"Alla Juventus vincere non è importante, è la sola cosa che conta"