January 22, 2014 by backofthenetjl
Roma are certainly succeeding expectation in the Serie A this year, but it is again we are seeing the juggernaut that is Juventus cementing themselves at the top of the pile. With only 18 games to go and eight points ahead, the Old Lady are looking favourites to claim their 29th Scudetto, come May this year.
Today, we witness these two gladiators fight out in Rome once again, for a place in the last four of the Coppa Italia.
The opening stages certainly presented a cagey affair, both Roma and Juve’ keeping their cards close to their chest, not presenting any opportunities for one and other. Roma had started the brightest. Juventus, dropping deep, gave freedom to the Giallorossi midfield, consisting of Kevin Strootman, Daniele De Rossi and new loan signing, Radja Nainggolan.
It was looking as though Antonio Conte, the Juventus manager, was setting up to counter, using the evergreen and ever-bearded, Andrea Pirlo, as a pivot, starting all plays through the center as Arturo Vidal powerfully surged from box to box.
This style most definitely suited Juve’ in the early parts of the game. Roma, being forced to shoot from distance, were looking frustrated, giving away witless fouls in fairly dangerous positions. This subsequently led to Benatia, Roma’s goal scoring defender, being awarded a yellow for what seemed to be a foul on the last man.
As the first half progressed, Juventus started to slip into their usual controlling rhythm, starting slowly from the trio of defenders. But Roma, with the support of an erupting Stadio Olimpico, worried the Juventus defence with a plight of quick attacks, Totti’s venomous half volley from range and Torosidis’ curling cross-come-shot coming the closest.
Both Conte and Garcia would have been pleased with their teams defensive efforts going into the break, but attacking wise, both were poor, Roma the most wasteful of the two. Giorgio Chiellini made way for Angelo Ogbonna as the teams ascended up the tunnel and back onto the pitch, the second half looking to be more promising than the first. The midfield battle between the two engines, Vidal and Nainggolan, was becoming more and more exciting as the tackles came flying in.
Straight away, one minute into the half, Juventus came flying out of the blocks as Isla fizzed in a wonderful cross, meeting the head of Federico Peluso, only for it to be ruled out as the ball crossed the byline mid-flight, certainly an arguable decision, but in my opinion, a good one.
Both sides had a certain attacking edge in the second half, Alessandro Florenzi not far off with a wonderfully improvised shot. But, as we’ve seen most times with Roma this year, they are missing that one out and out poacher. Mattia Destro continuing to spectate from the bench.
No side looked worthy of winning this tie so far, both being forced to shoot from distance, and not doing a very good job of it.
74th minute and Roma had made their first change, Miralem Pjanic replacing Florenzi, whilst Juventus looked to be heading for a more direct approach substituting Sebastian Giovinco for the big Spaniard, Fernando Llorente.
No side looked destined to break the dead lock, until Roma had launched a very quick counter attack, in which Pjanic slipped an intricate pass to Kevin Strootman on the byline, who luckily managed to find Gervinho as he cleverly back heeled it in flight and into the net.
Totti made way for Ljajic, ‘No Totti, no party’ as they say. Roma hoping their party could keep going for another seven minutes!
Roma personified the old phrase ‘attack is the best form of defence’ as they continued to press the Old Lady. Pjanic’s introduction proving a masterstroke of a decision on Garcia’s part.
Juventus went for broke, bringing Carlos Tevez on for Peluso, their final substitution, would it pay off?
No it did not! Roma advance through to the Coppa Italia semi final, where they will play either Napoli or eternal rivals, Lazio. The Serie A champions, Juventus, haven’t won this competition since 1995, and they won’t be winning it this year.
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Picture source: Yahoo Sport.