When Maurizio Sarri was manager of Juventus a few years back, he liked to talk about how sometimes a moment or two of brilliance was able to overcome the otherwise not very appealing performance his team put out there. We saw it a good number of times during that 2019-20 campaign before and after lockdown and it’s why Juve was able to hold on to win the title that season.
On Sunday night, that moment of brilliance came.
It just wasn’t from a Juventus player.
Roma got the one individual moment of brilliance eight minutes into the second half courtesy of Gianluca Mancini and then pretty much did what Max Allegri has done plenty of times before. Roma sat back, packed it all in and then tried to hit Juve on the counter if there was the chance to do so. Combine that with the fact that Juventus either couldn’t break Roma down or just couldn’t convert on not a one of the 10 second-half shots that were attempted. Add it all up and that’s why Roma won 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, putting an end to Juve’s seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions that had played a big role in them rising up the table following the initial 15-point penalty.
It was, in a way, a battle to see who got to 1-0 first so that they could settle in and try to see if the other team could break you down enough to get a tying goal. Roma weren’t overly pushing for a second goal. And, based on how Juve were in the final third, Roma hunkering down for the better part of 45 minutes following Mancini’s blot of lightning proved to be the right kind of decision from Jose Mourinho.
Now, there’s also this when it came to shooting numbers:
- Juventus shots off the post: 3
- Roma total shots on goal: 2
Sure, there was very much some unlucky things that played into Juventus getting shutout against a Roma side that is amongst the best defense in the league. But on the whole, was this more about Juventus being unlucky or more about Juventus being ineffective and wasteful in front of goal?
The problem was, in a game that was this tight and played very much from a defensive mindset for both managers — just look at how much of a grind that first half was! — you got the sense that one goal could be enough to do it as things went on. Then, once Roma got that one goal, it was all about defending it — and Mourinho’s squad certainly did defend it while also seeing Juve be pretty wasteful.
Roma made its one goal that came on that moment of wonder — it was Mancini’s first goal in two years, by the way — actually stick. That shows that Roma defended well, Juventus couldn’t finish and Allegri simply couldn’t think of a way to break the opposition down.
(Also, the simple fact is this: Roma’s an extremely physical and big team and that’s how Mourinho wants to play. That’s how they played against Juventus and that’s what helped turn the tide.)
So instead of keeping the good results going, Juve’s unbeaten run is now a thing of the past and they’ve begun this big two-week stretch heading into the first international break of 2023 on a pretty down note. That’s not great no matter when it occurs, but most definitely not good at a time like Juventus finds itself in at the moment.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Is it any surprise that Juventus took FOREVER to show a sense of urgency in the closing minutes of regular time? At some point, this team has to realize that scrambling in the final 10 minutes to get something out of a game you’re losing just won’t work anymore.
- Yeah, this is still going to take some getting used to, folks…
- I’m glad that Paulo Dybsla had a very uneventful game as a false nine because seeing him potentially do some of the things he did the last time these two teams played again would have been even more salt in the wound for this fanboy.
- Gianluca Mancini is 100% an antagonist. He thrives in shithousery to the highest degree. He loves it. His nonsense is the reason why Moise Kean reacted the way he did to get sent off 40 seconds after coming on. That doesn’t, at all, forgive Kean for getting sent off. Kean had one job coming on when he did — and it’s hard to do that when you’re kicking somebody in retaliation and getting a straight red. The retaliation will always be called. Always.
- Those days of Kean scoring five goals in five games seems like it was so long ago, doesn’t it?
- Adrien Rabiot trying to close Mancini as he’s winding up to take a shot felt like it was in slow motion. Or at least slow motion from Rabiot’s point of view. He was slow to react, kinda-sorta coasted over and was definitely late trying to block the shot that ended up deciding the game on the scoreboard. Far from Juve’s best efforts when it came to closing down the guy who had the ball. I get that you’re not expecting Mancini to shoot from there, but come on.
- There was about a five-minute span to open the second half in which Filip Kostic was absolutely torching Roma down the left wing. You wanted Juve to just keep feeding him the ball because hew as providing some very good chances. And then it’s like he barely touched the ball the rest of the night.
- Juventus got absolutely nothing from the midfield Sunday night. Absolutely nothing.
- In the his first game back from a yellow card suspension, it took Manuel Locatelli just a little over half an hour to pick up a yellow card.
- Dusan Vlahovic played a full 90 minutes and had all of 18 touches against Roma. All of one of those came in the box. Say what you want about Vlahovic and how he’s playing, but no striker is going to be scoring goals if they are getting as little service as Dusan got in this game.
- It also didn’t help that in the individual matchup between Vlahovic and Chris Smalling it was the big Englishman who most definitely got the better of the guy he was trying to beat.
- Juan Cuadrado didn’t complete a single cross against Roma.
- Rui Patricio is, on the whole, nothing special in goal and yet there he was making big save after big save. Because of course he did.
- Juventus outshot Roma 10-3 in the second half.
- Juventus only had one more shot on goal than Roma in the second half, albeit there were a couple of shots off the post thrown in there as well.
- Did Roma just beat Allegri at his own game? I feel like they did. I’m pretty sure they did.