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Roma Rolls Juventus, 3-1

I mean, wow. Roma got the job done tonight, in a big way.

AS Roma v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

It’s unfortunate that it took the prospect of Juventus winning their sixth straight Scudetto on Roma’s home turf for the Olimpico to be near capacity, but Roma’s home ground was rocking this evening, with nary an empty space to be seen, except that strip of blue right along the ad boards that never seems to sell out. Nevertheless, it was a throwback to the glory days of the Olimpico, fans in full voice, flags unfurled and the eleven men in red and yellow propelled by the energy of the Eternal City.

Despite that backdrop, this was a rather sloppy match, at least in the first half, as neither side achieved any level of cohesion, but rather exchanged haphazard parries towards the end lines. While Roma nearly threatened in the first 90 seconds, they were ultimately turned away by the always resolute Juventus defense, while the Old Lady was denied only by the good graces of the goal post.

It was a disjointed but exciting start, one which Juve capitalized on first...

Mario Lemina: 21st Minute

Hard to say what was worse here, the empty sphere which Juve was granted to play the initial ball towards the box or the poor marking/keeping Lemina onsides at the end of this—either way, Roma came up wanting and seemed ready to capitulate to the Old Lady after only 21 minutes.

Daniele De Rossi: 25th Minute

Minutes after Lemina’s improbable goal, Roma came roaring back thanks to their ferocious captain, Daniele De Rossi. Following a wicked head by Kostas Manolas, which was deftly saved by Gianluigi Buffon, De Rossi was Johnny on the spot, taking two swipes at it, the first of which was toe poked away by Gigi, before finally putting it home. It was a rather harried goal, but one that immediately changed the tenor of the match, as Roma was seemingly headed for their usual woe-is-me response (and yes, we were guilty of that ourselves on Twitter, no denying that).

The ensuing 20 minutes played out much like the first 25, long looping passes from Roma, desperate attempts to spring Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy into space, countered by the methodical prodding of Miralem Pjanic and the Juventus midfield. Neither side seemed to be clicking, though, as Gigi and Wojciech Szczęsny were seldom tested throughout the first half.

Despite all their speed and energy, Luciano Spalletti’s men couldn’t seem to generate many clear cut chances in the first half, while Allegri’s crew, though spirited, seemed content to preserve the draw, and by extension, their Scudetto.

Something had to give in the second half, but would it?

Stephan El Shaarawy: 56th Minute

SES is without a doubt Roma’s most athletic player and it showed here, as he skirted around Stephan Lichtsteiner at the edge of the 18 before bending a lovely ball into the far post, past the outstretched hands of Buffon. Take another look at that shot and you’ll notice how much spin El Shaarawy imparted on the ball, giving it enough juice to keep curling/bending on the ground to get past Gigi. Wonderful shot.

While a 2-1 lead is great, it’s seldom safe in the City of Seven Hills, even less so against an opponent the quality of Juventus. Rather than resting on their laurels, Roma kept pressing for a third goal, narrowing the pitch a bit rather than swinging it out wide, and while this approach wasn’t directly related to what happened next, it was nevertheless a good in-game adjustment by Spalletti.

Roma would do the unthinkable moments later, push the lead to 3-1.

Radja Nainggolan: 65th Minute

Just an absolutely perfect ball from Salah, who found Nainggolan in stride and from there it was easy as you like, as Radja just bared down, gripped it and ripped, blasting it past Buffon to double Roma’s lead.

Juve immediately responded by bringing on Paulo Dybala to tilt the pitch, a move which Spalletti countered by swapping off Diego Perotti for Clement Grenier who, despite his lack of playing time, is quite skilled at maintaining and moving possession up the pitch. A two-goal lead against Juventus, who have are chasing a treble, is far from a safe bet, so Roma had to keep pressing the matter to countered the forward attacks from Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.

Well, so much for that, Allegri summarily pulled off Cuadrado for Claudio Marchisio while Spalletti removed Radja Nainggolan for Juan Jesus, shifting to a 3-5-2 in the process, presumably to jam the middle of the park and bottle up Marchisio and Dybala.

The final 15 minutes of this match were as intense as anything we’ve seen all season long. Dybala was a one man wrecking crew, barreling his way through Roma’s midfield before running into Federico Fazio, but it must be said, Juve’s forward attacks made for many nervy moments, particularly with Roma’s poor clearances in the final third—Juan Jesus and Emerson Palmieri made a meal out of many an easy clearance.

In the end it didn’t matter, as Roma was able to hold their 3-1 lead, and even managed to give Francesco Totti a curtain call in stoppage time.


I mean, what can you say? I can’t imagine even the most optimistic of Roma fans expected this tonight, a 3-1 victory over Juventus, who had every reason to simply park the bus for 90 minutes. This was a huge statement game from Luciano Spalletti and Roma, who not only overcame the league’s best side but did so without their leading scorer and one of their best midfielders.

On any other night, Roma would have just rolled over after Lemina’s goal, but they kept right at it, kept pushing the ball forward to Salah and El Shaarawy, using their best and perhaps only advantage over Juve, sheer speed. Not surprisingly, El Shaarawy and Salah were arguably Roma’s most effective players tonight, accounting for four shots on goal, three key passes, a goal and an assist combined. Nainggolan was equally impressive, generating two scoring chances, five clearances and completing 81% of his passes in addition to grabbing Roma’s third goal.

Roma had an enormous job to do today, and they did it well. It wasn’t the prettiest match we’ve seen this season, but this was a complete role reversal from these two sides, with Roma rising to the occasion when it mattered most.

Bravo, Roma. Bravo.

And hey, if Juve loses their next two matches, Roma could win the Scudetto!


Man of the match?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Stephan El Shaarawy
    (125 votes)
  • 18%
    Mohamed Salah
    (102 votes)
  • 20%
    Radja Nainggolan
    (116 votes)
  • 13%
    Leandro Paredes
    (74 votes)
  • 23%
    Daniele De Rossi
    (135 votes)
  • 2%
    (14 votes)
566 votes total Vote Now