While we're all somewhat satisfied and, let's be honest, completely relieved that Roma escaped with three points yesterday, the Serie A world does not, in fact, revolve around Roma. I know, shocking, right? And while we don't usually pay explicit attention to the other 19 teams in the league, today's Derby della Mole has a few implications for the remainder of Roma's season and beyond.
So, why should we care? Well, because Rudi Garcia says so, that's why. Speaking after yesterday's victory over Bologna, Garcia turned his eyes slightly Northwest, to the Derby di Torino between league leaders Juventus and eighth place Torino:
Anything can happen in a derby. The levels of the two teams no longer matter, as it's just the pride to win and not lose. We've done our bit for this weekend and can watch what the others do now. Will Juve slow down? I played in Europe many times with Lille and know it takes up a lot of energy. It's tough after a European fixture. We do not play midweek and we've got to make the most of that fact.
In this instance, I think Garcia is selling the importance of this match, both for Juve, Torino, and Roma, a bit short.
For Juventus the matter is simple, they need to increase their lead over second place Roma; not an easy task given Roma's form and their game in hand. Further complicating matters for The Old Lady, as Garcia mentioned, is their European schedule. Juve enter this match with only three days rest since their victory over Trabzonspor, so The Old Lady may not have the freshest of legs in this critical domestic encounter.And while it was a relatively easy 2-0 victory on their own ground, many of Juve's key players logged some heavy minutes on Thursday, with Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez, and Leonardo Bonucci, among others, going the full 90.
As far as Torino is concerned, there is more at stake this evening than mere pride. A victory over Juventus would put the Toros even with Verona on 39 points (and possibly Inter, who are currently tied 1-1 as I write this), placing them in a veritable log jam for Italy's final Europa league spot. While we can certainly quibble about the merits of Europe's less glamorous cup competition, for a club like Torino, it would certainly be considered a momentous achievement.
So, for the teams actually on the pitch this evening, there is no shortage of motivation.
For the Giallorossi, it's simply an exercise in table watching. If Cerci and Immobile can somehow put a tired Juve defense on their heels and escape with three points, the Scudetto race becomes just a bit more plausible. With both a game in hand and head-to-head fixture against Juventus in the season's penultimate week, Roma's best shot to make life uncomfortable for Juve over the next three months may ultimately rest in the hands of Torino.
Besides all that, from a purely objective standpoint, there is a hell of a lot of talent on the pitch in Torino this evening. Between Alessio Cerci, Ciro Immobile, Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Fernando Llorente, we're talking about 58 collective goals and five of the league's top eleven scorers.
Oh, and there's also the small matter of Pablo Osvaldo "playing for" a championship club.
In any event, it's nearly Spring and that means one thing, its table watching season; only this time around, Roma actually has a vested interested in the affairs of the other 19 teams.
So, although it goes without saying....Forza Torino!