We're one match shy of the official halfway point of the Serie A season, but the bullet points for the remaining 20 fixtures will remain unchanged: in Roma's quest to return to the Champions League, every league fixture is worth its weight in gold—and today's tilt in Torino against Juventus was no exception.
With fifth-place Bologna falling 3-0 to Udinese yesterday, Roma had the chance to pull even with Thiago Motta's upstart outfit. Admittedly, facing Juventus on the road was a daunting task. Still, with Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku paired together in the starting lineup, the Giallorossi had a puncher's chance this evening at the Allianz Stadium.
And when Roma won a corner in the 4th minute and nearly stole a goal off a Bryan Cristante putback attempt, the evening was primed for an upset. Unfortunately for the Giallorossi, Cristante's rebound effort caromed off the post, turning a potential upset into yet another frustrating evening against the Old Lady.
That's not to say the capital club was outmatched—far from it. Although they conceded 10 shots in the first half, the match never felt out of reach for Roma. Dybala was a constant menace on the left, swinging in several scintillating efforts towards the far post, seemingly begging for one of his teammates to match his efforts.
Roma may have been frustrated up front, but at the back, Evan Ndicka, Gianluca Mancini, and Diego Llorente did yeoman's work, denying Juventus at every turn, including this sensational headed clearance by Ndicka, who denied Filip Kostic a surefire goal.
Evan Ndicka clears it off the line and saves Roma! pic.twitter.com/uklOxxOky0— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 30, 2023
Heading into the break, you had to like Roma's chances, but it didn't take long for the tide to turn in the second half, as Kostic, Vlahovic, and Adrien Rabiot teamed up in the 47th minute to break the deadlock. Bryan Cristante and Ramsus Eriksen did well to disrupt Kostic's run into the box but couldn't corral a loose ball that eventually fell to Vlahovic's feet, with the Serbian striker playing Rabiot into the penalty area with a rather slick back heel.
José Mourinho would make a trio of attacking changes in the second half, bringing Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Sardar Azmoun into the action only to see his side struggle to create anything significant in the final third, waiting until the 71st minute for their first on-target attempt.
And that was really all she wrote. Despite six minutes of additional time, Roma couldn't muster a last-minute rally and walked away disappointed. But, in the order of humiliating defeats in Torino, this ranks pretty low. Roma played well enough to warrant at least a draw this evening but found breathing room hard to come by in the final third, putting only two of eleven shots on frame.
With today's defeat, Roma is mired in seventh place, five points adrift of fourth place Fiorentina. If you missed the match, please enjoy the extended highlights below.