I have to admit, coming off the loss to Cremonese, I was dreading having to face Juventus. Notwithstanding Roma’s usual struggles against their northern rival, a deflating loss such as the one the Giallorossi were coming off of meant that, from a confidence standpoint, it was likely to be a long evening against an improving Juventus side.
But as fate would have it, a Gianluca Mancini second-half goal would ultimately be the difference, propelling Roma to a 1-0 win that sees them back in the top-four.
Nothing better than to go into the new week with a Roma win under your belt, especially when it comes against Juve, so let’s take a look at three things I noticed from Roma’s 1-0 win over the Old Lady.
#1: A New Dawn for Roma?
Don’t look now, but Sunday’s 1-0 win over Juve, coupled with their 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture, means that Roma is undefeated against Juventus in a Serie A season for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. We’ve come a long way from the days when the Giallorossi would roll over for Juventus (or any other big side, for that matter) before the match even started.
All that is to say, has Roma finally gotten over the hump when it comes to these big matches? Results would suggest yes, and I think that is due in large part to the confidence generated from their Conference League win.
Sure, Roma was beating teams like Atalanta prior to that victory in Tirana, but the ECL win was a culmination of all of the work that this team has done in improving their performances in big matches and wins like the one against Juve on Sunday, just provide further evidence that Roma’s big-match troubles may finally be behind them.
Juve might not be what they once were, but that was as assured a performance as I’ve seen from Roma when they play the Old Lady.
#2: An Unlikely Hero
When Mourinho opted to play without an out-and-out striker, leaving both Tammy Abraham and Andrea Belotti on the bench in favor of a Paulo Dybala-led Roma front line, you probably anticipated a scoreless performance from Roma. You certainly probably thought that scenario was more likely than Gianluca Mancini unleashing a top-of-the-box screamer to score the winning goal against Juve.
And yet here we are, the Italian defender the hero on the night as his goal was the difference on the evening. Mancini would’ve been the man of the moment no matter what, but as these things usually go, he also found himself in the middle of the Moise Kean controversy—a moment of madness from Kean that saw him kick-out at Mancini and, as a result, force Juventus to finish the match a man behind.
Controversial moment aside, it was a performance of the season for Mancini, writing himself into Roma history with one vicious kick of the boot.
#3: A Night to Forget For Zalewski
Look, I don’t want to take away from the celebrations, but it was a tough night for Nicola Zalewski. Filip Kostić had the youngster’s number all night, and although Mourinho kept Zalewski in the match longer than most would’ve liked, the introduction of Rick Karsdorp helped shore up the defense in that area of the pitch.
By no means is this a call to hit the panic button on Zalewski or talk about who should replace him in the starting line-up, but the difficulty he had on the evening is worth pointing out.
Kostić is an elite player, so there’s no shame in having a tough time; it happens to every defender. What’s important is that Zalewski takes that performance and uses it to improve his game going forward.
Well, that’s all from me. It’s no rest for the wicked as Roma is scheduled to play Real Sociedad in midweek in the next round of the Europa League. It’ll be a stern test, to be sure, but as always, you hope that Roma uses this victory as a springboard towards putting in a dominant performance on Thursday.