Match Review Serie A

Juventus 1-0 Roma Match Report and Player Ratings

December 18, 2016 - 11:05 am

With the storied Winter Champions title already sewn up with a game to spare, we welcomed an ever improving Roma side to Turin, who were placed just 4 points below us in the table. A win for our foes would assuredly re-open the scudetto race, no doubt adding wind to the sails of those further adrift, reigniting dreams which had been slowly dying on the vine.

We started the match strongly, high pressing, and were clearly the first to settle. Higuain had an early effort well saved, and when the goal came before a quarter of an hour had been played, it was deserved. Gonzalo muscling past De Rossi, pushing the ball beyond Manolas to unleash a gorgeous left foot drive from just inside the box for 1-0.

The only other clear cut chances to fall to either side were Juve’s as we delivered a determined, confident performance, extending our lead at the top of the table to 7 points and putting our most obvious rival for the title to the sword. A deserved 3 points.

Player Ratings

Buffon – Very few can pull off the tash and remain classy, but Santo Buffon wore it well. A misplaced punch aside, barely one real save of note to make, his evening was solid and quiet. 6.5

Rugani – Growing in stature game by game, the youngster has made the most of chances afforded by injuries to the old guard and looked assured and composed throughout. 7.5

Chiellini – Finally, King Giorgio has settled back into form, just when we need a cool, experienced head at the back. Offered support going forward on occasion, other than which was a rock in the rear guard. Dzeko was hardly seen, perfectly shackled. Resolute. 7.5

Sandro – Showed he can be just as effective as a fullback (as wingback). Covered the flank with guile, fine stamina and cunning technique. Glad to see him returning to his best. 7.5

Lichsteiner – We are far more solid defensively with Stephan in the ranks in place of Alves, and I hope he is brought into the champions league squad for the knock-out stages, as we need his experience and nous. Found a few promising positions high up the field and covered the defensive areas with intelligence. It has taken a while for him to regain his rhythm, yet he is clearly moving through the gears. 7

Il Principino – Working his way back to the top.

Marchisio – Smart on the ball, tactically superb, screened the defence and kept the ball moving. His game is blossoming. Slowly but surely he is returning to his world class consistency. We are blessed to have him back in the ranks, the whole side lifted and our chances of glory increasing with every step forward taken by Il Principino. 7.5

Khedira – Dovetailed well enough with Mandzukic, choosing when to make up the numbers in the box and when to pull back to defend. I still feel Allegri is yet to find his best role in this side, but this was a calm, measured showing from the German. 6.5

Pjanic – Looks far more useful in the hole between midfield and attack, able to string passes together swiftly and pick up great positions from where he can produce creativity in the final third. A shame he went off injured, but thankfully it seems an innocuous knock. 6.5

Sturaro – Outstanding. Young Stefano has taken a few games – as to be expected – to regain his stamina and sharpness, and a portion of supporters seem to have strangely forgotten his longlasting injury bothers as well as his sterling form of last season. He was ubiquitous. Offering opponents zero space in the defensive phase, racing forward to find himself on the end of several promising moves, forcing the keeper into two decent saves, never tiring, giving his all for every ball. His passing, movement, tenacity and energy were top drawer. Plenty of room for improvement, but this performance was greater than anything offered by Lemina, Hernanes or Asamoah this season. Was not at all outclassed by Strootman, De Rossi or Nainggolan. I am glad but unsurprised to see such sterling work from the 23 year old. More is to come, but with him and Marchisio in midfield, Pjanic is able to play far more freely, for the dirty work is done by others. 8.5

Mandzukic – Mario has enjoyed a fine return to the starting XI since Dybala was crocked. His work rate is immense; defending, battering out space, pulling defenders out of position, and creating for others. Alongside Sturaro, his grinta was a wondrous example of lo stile Juve. With Pjanic, Sturaro and Khedira supporting the attack, the Croatian intelligently drops back to defend and cover with brilliant zeal. 8

Higuain – He found three chances, scored the winner with world class technique and looks sharp and menacing. Allegri has finally worked out a system to play him and Mario and to keep the Argentine further forward. And it is paying dividends. 7

Cuadrado – Appalling, gave the ball away in dangerous positions too many times to count, his passing was woeful, he seemed ill prepared to play. Hellbent on offering Roma a way back into the game. Still, by now I am accustomed to his mainly cold, sometimes hot consistency. Regardless, this was a wretched outing from the Colombian. Even by his…haphazard standards. 3

Barzagli – Pleasing to see him return and end the game unscathed. His experience will prove mightily useful when we enter the more serious segment of the campaign.

This was a fairly comfortable victory against a well organised, confident Roma side. Chances came at a premium, yet all four of the only clear cut opportunities were forged by Juve. And this was the difference. Indeed, Spalletti’s charges huffed and puffed, and played some decent football, but they were unable to match not just our quality but also our belief and pressure.

We stood off them a little late in the second half and its a shame we didn’t get the second. Yet we held on, remained dangerous on the break and Buffon’s gloves were rarely warmed. The team is growing, with Allegri finally feeling the time is right, perhaps somewhat forced through injuries, to deploy Pjanic in a more natural attacking midfield role. This is not just down to the defensive absentees, but more-so because Sturaro and Marchisio offer assurances in the middle, which we have hugely missed during their respective stints in the medical ward.

Stefano celebrated his recent contract extension with a sensational game against Roma.

This industrious performance by Sturaro was no one-off, it was how he was playing regularly after joining the side in early 2015, until injuries began to niggle late last term. Asamoah has appeared awkward, Lemina hugely inconsistent and Hernanes at best a fair but insipid replacement for Marchisio as regista. We have toiled, payed quite poor football and now we have recovered two key players for the side, in an area of the field which has been troubling us all season.

Our strength in depth has really come to the fore this season. For rather than worry of missing key players, others such as Mandzukic, Rugani and Sturaro have found the chance to stake a claim for regular first team action. It is also welcome to see the Swiss Locomotive happy and involved. I hope the club reconsiders his contractual situation in January, before he is free to sign on elsewhere for the Summer. Alves was not at all obviously superior at either end of the field before his injury and the side feels more balanced with Stephan.

“I was angry at the final whistle because we did not deal with our lead very well at all towards the end,” 

“Roma are very physical and we ran a few too many risks on set plays. I was cross with myself, as we should not have given Roma those opportunities. It’s another victory, we have 42 points with two games to play before the midway stage of the season.

“It was important to win tonight, we have Roma seven points behind us, but there’s a long way to go this term.”

“I am not remotely interested in records, as they mean very little. I am interested in being top of the table at the end of the season.

“It was a good match, hard-fought and I compliment all 22 players who took the field. I kept Mario Mandzukic to the end so he could engage in the final battle.” 

“Let us enjoy this success and then see what happens. It’s important to go into the Super Cup game against Milan with the right mentality. We lost to them in Serie A this season and this is a one-off game, we’ve got no second chance.

“Miralem Pjanic got a knock to the hip, hopefully he’ll be able to recover in time. Daniele Rugani had a great performance to keep Edin Dzeko quiet. Alex Sandro didn’t put a foot wrong when defending and can become extraordinary.

“Stefano Sturaro played in a very Arturo Vidal style fighting against the Roma midfield and winning many duels, which was not easy up against Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan.” (Allegri)

We have our best players returning to fitness and sharpness. The results remain fine and the performances are improving. Allegri has weathered the storm superbly and should be praised for his handling of yet another period where we have succumbed to constant injuries, precluding any chance of finding a settled system, gaining cohesion and form.

The 4-3-1-2 with these players is very strong. Yet what will Allegri do when Barzagli and Bonucci are both once again fit? It is not time to dispense completely with the 3-5-2. Though clearly we gain a more potent Pjanic with a 4-3-1-2. Considering we have Dybala, Pjaca, Barzagli and Bonucci to come back into the reckoning, and we may well bring in Witsel for January, our situation appears very promising indeed. I retain total confidence in Allegri to nourish our growth and lead the chase for our shared dreams.

Of late, we have convincingly dispensed with an impressive Atalanta, topped our group in Europe, won bragging rights in the derby della mole, extended our lead at the top of Serie A to 7 points and equalled our own record of 25 straight home victories in the league.

A job well done.

forza juve

(NB. The Primavera crunched Pescara 0-3 over the weekend, taking us back to the top of the standings. Coccolo scored with a decent header early doors, some tidy footwork from Macek led to Kean scoring from close range and it was Kean who intelligently set up Clemenza for the third. Grosso’s young guns will face Ajax in the knock-out stages of the UEFA Youth League in February)

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  • Avatar
    Juventino Persa December 18, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Salute to all Juve staff and players, who are moving in the right direction. Tough match won deservedly, against our main title rival. Let’s win the Supercup and then after winter break we are in great shape in all competitions.

    As somebody who criticize Allegri quite often, I have to concede that after recovering his main players, his tactical choices and team’s performance are improving drastically. Juve have rarely had the chance of using their all players and hopefully we tick into full gear at second half of the season, when it matters most. I simply think 4-3-1-2 suits best to our squad, while we can switch to 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 occasionally. Now it’s time to incorporate Dybala, and hopefully with addition of Witsel we’ll have good depth.

    I want to especially mention 3 outstanding players, who consistently perform on superb level and have a very big say in our recent rise; Higuain, Marchisio and Rugani. Hat off to all our players, but El Pipita’s goals are bringing us the points in most difficult games, Il Principino is the man who makes all team running smoothly, and Daniele is not Juventus future anymore, he is our present, who helps us not feeling the absence of BBC. They are a joy to watch!

    About Sturaro I agree with most of what you said, and indeed it was an extraordinary performance by him, only he should have scored at least one of those two chances. Anyway, if he can deliver like yesterday I would be more than happy to have his combative presence in the team, but consistency is everything my friend, one excellent performance per 6 month is simply not good enough for Juventus level. Let’s hope for the best for Stefano and Forza Juve!

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 19, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Well put, mate! Glad to have you commenting. Yet its a little unfair to suggest Sturaro has provided one decent outing in 6 months, for he only emerged from injury in very late October! He has 2 months of slowly returning to sharpness under his belt, not 6 months after a solid pre-season.

      • Avatar
        E.Micallef December 19, 2016 at 7:51 pm

        Also the matches like against Roma are the ones Sturaro like. Remeber against RM two seasons ago. Unfortunately these type of matches are scarce in Italy. If you want fighting spirit from the lads than he is your guy. If on the other hand you have a game against a ten player defend team than i’m sorry but he wont shine.

  • Avatar
    Moderator December 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Agree with all TGP wrote – Sturaro has found himself resigned to a bench role, but in this new formation, he gives Pjanic the freedom that Lemina or Asamoah can’t. He’s hard working, tough tackling and intimidating – he’s an enforcer of the Vidal-mould, although he has a long way to go until he’s close to Arturo…..but the signs are encouraging.
    I really hope we stick with this formation – It gives us some much needed creativity and gives us the option of bringing on an extra man in defence when the result is sewn up – There’s more onus on attack early on, to score the early goals, then to go back to the familiar 3-5-2 and contol the game through the midfield and see out the result.
    Granted, Barzagli and Bonucci can;t be dropped, and nor can Rugani or Chiellini in their current form…..but thats one for the coach to deal with – I’d be more inclined to seeing us use a more attacking approach in the second half of the season, and in the CL – we have the players for it, and it seems that the injuries that forced Maxs’ hand might give us the freedom we require on the pitch.
    A word on Rugani……he looks so comfortable on the ball its unnerving….he has some of the best qualities of all 3 of our CB’s rolled into one, and he has a maturity that belies his youthful appearance and years – Roma are a side that strut, much like Napoli – Daniele took that away from them last night, and it was a joy to watch. Now that he’s in the XI, it’s not right to drop him.

    Cuadrado was shambolic and it’s hard to defend him when he’s so wasteful on the ball, and dangerous – Much more expected from him in a game like that.

    Pjaca back in the squad and could be fit and ready for Milan…..something to look forward to in the new year.

    Congrats all – A sixth title is a blip on the distant horizon, but it is coming into focus with every weekend that passes……and i would take a sixth title any day over the CL. A chance to create something historical that no side has before in Serie A history – A feat that won’t be matched in my lifetime i suspect. Bravo to the team, the management and the fans on this promising season which is starting to come together in a big way.
    FORZA JUVE !

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Great words on Rugani, my friend. I couldnt agree more. He is going from strength to strength and I hope he is not benched for he deserves, on merit, to remain in the starting XI. As does Sturaro and everyone who started. Though to replace Mandzukic with Dybala will change matters. Hugely more potency up top but less defensive prowess behind. Great times ahead.

      • Avatar
        Moderator December 19, 2016 at 5:05 pm

        hell of a year ahead of us comrade – As i type, Bonucci has renewed and we have secured Caldara with the possibility of Gagliardini joining too.
        Everything going right for us at present – long may it continue !

  • Avatar
    Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    This is a great piece of writing poet. i think it has taken many (all over the internet) a while to actually start believing in this assemble of stars, this idea to go all the way in all competitions, and lets be realistic specially outsiders don´t believe in us going all the way, like they didn´t in our last UCL final. Still who cares about them blind fools. Now about us Juventinos I dare say we are entitled to believe.

    Now I want to be clear I think this midfield is still not at the level of the Pirlo-Pogba-Marchisio-Vidal diamond. And even further the squad as a whole has a lot to grow to get near the Buffon-Thuram-Tachinnardi-Montero-Davids-Camoranesi- Nedved- Del piero- Trezeguet. days. Still I think our objective must be to get there in steps. I think Witsel is just another step. I don´t expec the best of this Juve this year. But heck I do think right now we have the resources to go all the way. Specially counting on the guidance of master tactician Allegri, if he doesn´t repeat the sort of mistakes he did in the Allianz Arena game taking Morata off the field and trying to protect the lead too early instead of going for a satb of death on our injured foes, I am convinced we can go all the way in UCL, a 6th scudetto would be a given by then. Thank God.

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef December 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      To be fair my friend i would have bet on substitute Mandzukic in that game against BM. Lets just say Coman had the two best crosses of his career. And Evra the worst idea he had in years. :/

      • Avatar
        Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        That´s true, max decisions were just part of the problem, a string of individual and managerial mistakes took us out, still I can´t waive to think it could´ve been much different had Max made better choices. Obviously he has proven himself a top club coach but still human=mistake prone.

        • Avatar
          E.Micallef December 18, 2016 at 6:34 pm

          And overall i am still thinking last minute of the first half how could we not score that. Remember i was hugging peaple in the club already crying with joy for there was no way BM would score 4 against us. I still have nightmares. Morata from inside th penalty area OMG. That was destiny my friend. Only destiny would have helped BM that day. They were outplayed for 70 min in thier arena.

          • Avatar
            Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm

            That´s true i think God considered it was not to be this time for us for whatever reason, maybe we would actually have won UCL and I would have indebted myself to bankruptcy to get an original matchday shirt and even travel to Italy and celebrate. I hope this is year I could do so :P.

            And yes Bayern were outplayed on that 2nd leg, thing is we were outplayed at home. This year we can´t repeat the same mistake, we have to be authoritative at home, and cynical abroad, last year we were only cynical and it almost paid off.

  • Avatar
    E.Micallef December 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Lemina i think we can find a suitable place for him in the squad. We are playing more direct football. The absence of Bonucci is key in the mental transformation of the squad. We cannot sit back without our back regista. Rugani and Chellini play some decent passes but right now its up to the midfiled to find the tempo and it shows. We always move foward. Thats how football is played. When we have Dybala to full fitness and agree with Allegri he is staying on the bench to regain his total strenght we will be unstoppable in counter attacks. Cuadrado well he gave us invaluable 3 pionts against Lyon and Torino last year that is enough. Sturaro was a beast easily player of the match. Khedira dont underestimate he plays dirty and is crucial in this team. And playing regularly.

  • Avatar
    Dar Black December 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    So where is Pjaca going to slot in when he’s back fit again? Benched always? Will Witsel push Sturaro out to the subs too?

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef December 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Pjaca is a winger. In counter attacks he too would be perfect. If we play the boring keep the ball game we did prior Genoa with all players looking backwards instead of foward well my friend he could as well be given place elsewhere.

    • Avatar
      Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I think Pjaca would slot naturally as starter in a formation with true wingers like a 4-2-3-1 but since max has opted for 4-3-1-2 as of late i think marco for now may continue to be deployed as Dybala substitute, meaning as 2nd striker in the 3-5-2, or a 2nd striker in the 4-3-1-2. He would come in in the last 20 mins to replace either one of Dybala or Mandzukic/Higuain when we have 2 towers (2 #9s).

      There´s a number of reasons I think Max doesn´t use:

      Also i think Cuadrado´s poor form doesn´t help Max opt for a 4-2-3-1

      So keeping that in mind his best chance is to come inas he has done before or in an aggressive 4-4-2 having Cuadrado on the right. But is far less likely given Juan´s form has been average at best, underwhelming at worst and Juve don´t usually deploy such aggressive systems specially if Sandro is on the left, Maybe Pjaca with Evra is more likely and Lich/Alves + Cuadrado en the right.

      So in summary main reason is i´ve heard Max prefers a 3 men midfield than 2 men, but Pjca slots more naturally in 2 men midfields hence why he has been turned into a 2nd striker for now. Juve for several years has not been a team of true wingers like most of the other top European clubs.

    • Avatar
      Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      And yes I think if Witsel is as good as advertised he would take Sturaro´s current spot (or Khedira´s if he is really good and does the attacking runs into space a la Vidal) and push him as super sub unless sturaro wins the pulse and benches Witsel.

  • Avatar
    Jas December 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Not sure how you can give sturaro an 8.5 mate, seems a bit far fetched if you ask me. He had a chance to put the game to rest with that one chance but his finishing was average at best. Mandzukic was once again completely useless, Khedira a shadow off himself. Rugani did impress me the most, wow do we have a gem. Mixed feelings on my end, looking at Napoli vs Torino how is that we can’t score as much as these teams? We have the talent but I cannot remember the last time we scored 4 goals in a game.

    • Avatar
      Papilaya(John)™★★★ December 18, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Clearly you havent been watching mandzukics recent form.

      Football, especially football in italy is not about high scoring games.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 18, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Well comrade…he has been vilified wretchedly of late by a fair few on this very board, was playing with injury through the EUROs then suffered consistent niggling muscular bothers since. Has come back a month or so back and showed effort but was clearly not right in flesh or head, and we were now due a performance…which we got. We have not seen such a boisterous, high octane, constant biting at the heels of opponents and moving the ball forward and making up numbers up top, with such zeal and quality since a certain Arturo Vidal left the ranks.

      I rate players on not just their ability, but the context of the game, their recent form and mental/physical condition and hence why I praised Stefano so highly. In short, it was his finest performance since last season and played a massive role in the disjointed offensive endeavour of Roma. They simply couldn’t shake lose of him. We have sorely missed that brutish tenacity and I am excpetionally pleased to see him back to somewhere near his best. His hatchet man routine also allows our offensive talents to shine more brightly and he can prove useful in the final third…

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 19, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Also, I didn’t note earlier your comment regarding Mario…who was superb. You must understand that he is not playing as a forward. He is tasked to come deep, hustle, use his strength and aerial prowess deep, and link the play where possible. 3 interceptions and 4 clearances makes him appear more a defensive midfielder, yet he covered ground all over the field. He also made 3 key passes…

      We do not score as much as Napoli, for teams defend higher against them as they fancy their chances. We might not score 5 goals, but we rarely concede more than a goal.

      The only aberrations of our season, result wise, are the two games against the Milanese sides and the Genoa debacle, other than which we have been fine. We are yet to reach anywhere near top form, as we simply have not had the players, but look at our position…

  • Avatar
    Sebastián Quiceno December 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Honestly i don´t agree we are keen to repeat the same mistake, I´ll tell you what after watching yesterdays determination of squad and savvy approach from Max I am sure had we drawn Bayern again instead of porto we would already be on round of 16.

    Last UCL we failed cause we had lack of confidence and Bayern were advertised as Juggernauts only cause of Guardiola, but this year we are a much Better Juve and Bayern are underwhelming. They were lucky not to draw us yet, thing is if we face them later it will be even worst for them. i hope we find them in the round of 8 have them not even reach semi.

    Max tweeted it the other day and I am sure he is talking seriously this Juve can face anyone ANYONE, anytime, anywhere. Bring em on.

    About Leo your opinion is valid although I have no problem at all with Leo whatsoever specially if we have Chiello and Barzagli fit.. and maybe even Rugani.

    Last UCL our approach was too timid, too cautious, lacking confidence, lacking balls, too conservative, still that was almost enough Imagine now which we are more grown up, less fearful with less stage panic, with more experienced champions like Alves and Higuaín, a more seasoned bold and smart coach with better resources.

    I am convinced we can go all the way. Barca is not the same specially without iniesta, Bayern are average top club, only threat might be Madrid but we usually got them on our pocket, City is just a future promise, I would be wary of Chelsea next year.

    So all in all there are no true threats to our UCL campaign, it all depens on ourselves (and God´s will). If we don´t shoot ourselves in the foot we can win UCL this term without much hassle.

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef December 18, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Dont get me wrong somtimes we take ages to go upfront. You know what i mean defences get organised and its difficult to take the chance. Against Roma we were incredibly high and could have scored more. I dont say Scezny had a couple of decent saves. One of them against Sturaro was incredible.

  • Avatar
    Riad Bobo A December 19, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Uhh I was a little set back reading this. For the most part it’s fairly solid, but I think you need to give Mandzukic more credit. He might not score every game but he hustles to be that barrier in the back, no doubt we may have conceded more these last few games without him. Sturaro definitely had the best performance I’ve seen in years! Excited to see him play. Also thought Khedira deserved a little more. He was intercepting Roma passes in crucial positions, started a few counters. Cuardado makes me nervous. He’s not passing enough, losing the ball, and giving Roma the opportunity to score. Allegri needs to put the tactical mindset in his head. He is not the only player on the pitch and it angers me when he plays like he is. Sandro also made me nervous towards the end, trying to dribble out the back, losing it, and sending Roma on the counter. He needs to simply send long balls when the lead is slim, not try to weave his way around attackers. Overall, after Pipita scored, we immediately dropped back. That angered me alot. It reminded me of the Bayern game, where we came out and outclassed them (at their home) but then took our foot off the gas and let them get back in the game. We’re not as solid defensively as we used to be, so we shouldn’t sit back and act like we are.

    • Avatar
      Riad Bobo A December 19, 2016 at 4:00 am

      Actually, you covered Mandzukic well, it was the comment below referring to Mandzukic that ticked me off

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino December 20, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Great piece again comrade, gave me a good view of the game. Exceptionally glad Sturaro has shown a glimpse of what he can do again, there is more where that came from!

    Concerning form and results so far, we cant complain at all! We are at the top and we havent even reached our peak yet.