Well, it's been quite the week for Juventus, hasn't it? From losing 1-0 to Udinese last Sunday, to promptly seeing three of the players that appeared in that game move on to new teams in what has been an absurd transfer window, it was going to be nice to finally have two hours just to focus on the players who are actually on the field.
The talking points going into the game were Max Allegri sticking with the three-man back line, this time with Martin Caceres instead of Andrea Barzagli on the right and Simone Padoin remaining in the regista-like role vacated by Andrea Pirlo and the injured Claudio Marchisio.
It was a full house at the Stadio Olimpico and, while it was only the second week of the Serie A, this game had all the feel of one that would have major title implications. The game was chippy from the start, as it's safe to say these teams still don't like each other. The bad blood would continue to run hot as Rubinho was even sent off in the 66th minute for giving one thought too many to the referee.
The game got off to a conspicuous start as Mario Mandzukic was almost whistled for a penalty after he got his feet tangled with Edin Dzeko in the first minute, and things only got worse from there. Juventus were boxed into their side for almost all of the first half and were an absolute disaster going forward, merely putting in some week crosses when they did manage to get the ball in the attacking third. Despite their dominance of possession in the first half, Roma was never really dangerous, except for a Miralem Pranjic brace which found the side of the post.
The onslaught continued in the second half as Roma broke through with absolutely beautiful free kick goal from Pjanic, which made us all shed a tear that Pirlo will no longer to be doing that type of thing this season.
Following the goal, Mandzukic made way for Alvaro Morata as Allegri tried to shuffle the deck, later bringing on Roberto Pereyra and Juan Cuadrado on for Stephan Lichtsteiner and Simone Padoin in quick succession.
The substitutes did manage to inject a little life in the Old Lady as they managed to take the game to Roma following the Pjanic goal in search of an equalizer, but that was quickly sucked out when Patrice Evra was sent off for his second yellow card. Roma would quickly capitalize when Dzeko easily boxed Giorgio Chiellini out in the penalty box on a high floating cross to head home the decisive second goal.
If there is a silver lining, it is that Juventus played their best attacking football of the young season after the Dzeko goal and Pereyra was an absolute spark plug, sliding into is role behind the strikers which he occupied last year, as he provided the assist to Paulo Dyabala to cut Roma's lead in half. Juve nearly stole a point, but Wojciech Szczęsny made a fantastic save in stoppage time on Leonardo Bonnucci header to preserve the lead. It would have been an absolute heartbreak for Roma as they were easily the better side.
Juventus now heads into the international break on zero points after two games ... Yikes!
Buffon 6.5 - He made a few great saves that kept Juventus in the game. There was little he could do on Pjanic's free kick or Dzeko's header, however.
Lichsteiner 5 - He didn't have much of an impact on the right side, was solid in defense but made minimal impact going forward before being subbed off to his chagrin.
Caceres 6 - He was composed at the back and looked decent enough going forward, was asked to slide out to right back after Lichsteiner was subbed off and did so competently.
Bonucci 6.5 - Was once again the rock in the Juventus defense, being stout in the air and was often ask to take on the role of playing out from the back as Padoin seemed overwhelmed at times.
Chiellini 5 - Once again walked the fine line between aggressive and totally out of control, picking up yellow after a bunch of risky fouls early. He was solid for the most part, but he was absolutely owned by Dzeko on what proved to be the deciding goal.
Evra 4.5 - A poor performance all around for Evra, even before getting sent off. It looks like father time might have finally caught up to the French fullback. Expect Alex Sandro to be starting on the left after the international break.
Padoin 4.5 - Today was simply way too big of a game for a player of Padoin's caliber as he looked allergic to the ball at times and was a liability in defense.
Pogba 5 - He was overcharged and was routinely goated by the Roma players and fans alike and looked outright flustered at points, routinely yelling at the ref and his teammates. Pogba has all the talent in the world but he needs to stay poised in games like these.
Sturaro 5.5 - A typical workman like performance from Sturaro, nothing great but was probably one of the better players in black and white today.
Mandzukic 5 - Did not have his best day like a lot of Juventus players today, and really made a mess of Juve's best chance in the first half when the ball fell to his feet at the six-yard box.
Dyabala 7 - Easily Juventus's best player against Roma, Dyabala was an oasis of skill and creativity in a dessert that of uninspired play. Junventus' most expensive signing of the mercato is looking to be worth the money, as he nearly dragged Juventus to a point.
Morata 5.5 - Came on for Mandzukic with half an hour to play and looked decent enough, but not much else.
Perayra 6.5 - Came on for Padoin in the 72nd minute and quickly made an impact making a few strong runs with the ball at his feet and provided Dyabala with the assist on the lone goal. With all the injuries in midfield, Pereyra has to start.
Cuadrado 5.5 - Came on and looked like he could've done some damage on the right side but only had 15 minutes to play.
Allegri 4 - Seemingly made all the wrong decisions whether it was going with the three man back line or starting Padoin over Pereyra. A bad day all around for Max
THINGS I THINK I THINK
Why is Juventus lining up in the 3-5-2 in a game like this?
There is a time and place for going to a three-man back line, such as the last 15 minutes of a game trying to preserve the lead or looking to rotate the squad before a Champions League game. Today wasn't it. When going on the road to quality side like Roma that you know will be pressing, you need that fourth midfielder to help break that pressure without passing back to the center backs or the keeper. While Pogba really struggled today, he was put in a tough position as he constantly looked for another outlet that simply wasn't there.
The Simone Padoin at regista experiment has failed and needs to end.
Padoin in the regista role is like the idea of the pet rock — it's dumb now and it's shocking people thought it ever wasn't. Bless his heart, but this game was way too big for him. He struggled to make any pass up the field and was a liability defensively both struggling to stop runs through the center of the field and competing for balls in the air. Padoin has a place in this squad, but it isn't in the starting XI in big games.
Allegri needs to let go of this ‘mystique' of the regista.
Before the game Allegri had said that Padoin was the most suited to occupy the midfield role in front of defense, with Marchisio out, so he would start. It's safe to say nobody has any idea what Allegri is talking about. Allegri has long favored playing with a single player to occupy that role, but it's worrisome how stubborn he seems in changing this philosophy. Whatever he sees in Padoin, I find it hard to believe that Pogba, Pereyra and Sturaro couldn't have provided the same — if not better production — in the role or rotating among them. I mean, sitting in front of defense isn't rocket science, is it?