The Bianconeri and their Roman guests took the field late this afternoon in Turin, Italia, amid truly miserable weather at a splendid sports edifice that might have been named Stadio Gianni Agnelli, or perhaps Stadio Giampero Boniperti, had the naming rights not been sold off to a massive global insurance outfit. This charade of a deal was, of course, performed despite my objections and the likely similar sentiments of millions of other Juventus fans. But of course I’m digressing.
The visitors arrived in Turin roughly neck-and neck with the hosts for 3rd place in the Serie A table and with their manager, Paolo Fonseca, in the middle of a nasty spat with his main striker, Edin Dzeko. Their hosts, on the other hand, find themselves relatively devoid of drama and well on the road to mounting a serious effort to capture their 10th consecutive Serie A title, which would be their first under Andrea Pirlo’s direction. Despite the drama, Roma are a formidable squad with several world-class players and a canny manager.
Both squads lacked key players due to injury (Roma’s #1 goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, reliable veteran center back Chris Smalling, Juventus forward Paolo Dybala) as has been common during this unique season jammed with fixtures due to the disruptions of the on-going global health crisis. As was indicated by the clubs’ relatively equal positions in the league table, the match turned out to be quite competitive, with Juventus scoring early via an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal set up by Alex Sandro’s outstanding run up the left side and his quality centering pass to the Portuguese star just outside the box. As is Ronaldo’s M.O., the ball found the back of the net and the visitors were down early.
To their credit, Roma fought back and pressured in spurts throughout. Juventus captain Georgio Chiellini came up with a Uomo-Of-The-Match performance that lived up to his “King Kong” nickname, solidifying the defense with exquisite positioning and perfectly-timed interventions.
Juventus Player Ratings:
Szczesny: 6.5. Not exceedingly busy, but maintained focus throughout a cold, wet, messy match. Solid.
Alex Sandro: 7.5 Set up the initial goal, scurried up and down the field endlessly, never seemed out of sorts or out of position.
Danilo: 7 smooth as can be, continuing his consistent fine form this season.
Chiellini: 8. Imperious. Almost singlehandedly ensured that no Roman had a decent look at goal.
Bonucci: 6.5. Made some important interventions, but switched off again and again. Without Georgio, he’d be an unstable non-genius.
McKennie: 6. Lots of hustle, but lacked precision and was rightly subbed off on this occasion.
Arthur: 7 Steady, not spectacular, but kept things moving forward on a sloppy pitch.
Rabiot: 7.5 plenty of interventions on defensive end, brought the ball forward frequently. Showed grinta aplenty
Morata: 6.5 Industrious and unselfish. Lots of decent hold-up play, helped set up initial goal. Cristiano the playing and marketing phenomenon: 8 Incredible first goal, hit the bar and was unlucky on a potential second, Struck terror in hearts of the opposition all match.
Substitutes: Cuadrado: 7 Set up the decisive 2nd goal almost immediately after arriving on the scene.
Bernardeschi: Only on approx 10 min, but hustled and effective in defense and as an outlet on the left side.
Kulusevski: 7 His sliding effort on goal caused the own goal that sealed Roma’s fate.
(Demiral and De Ligt came on for the last few minutes, not enough time or activity to qualify for a rating.)
Roma Player Ratings:
Pau Lopez: 5.5. Certainly couldn’t have prevented the first goal from the home club. Might have prevented the 2nd if more aggressive.
Ibanez: 5. ultimately authored Juve’s second goal, but hard to imagine how he’d have prevented it, given the dreadful conditions and Juve running rampant at that point in the match.
Mancini: 5.5. had an effective initial half, coming forward occasionally, faded as the match went on.
Ibanez: 4.5 got posterized and run over during the 2nd Juve goal.
Kumbulla: 5. Couldn’t handle Juve forwards on this soggy night.
Karsdorp: 6 Gave Juve some trouble with his physicality and coming forward, continued Milan’s midfield tradition (post-Nainggolan) of tough midfielders with throat tattoos.
Cristante: 5.5 Partially at fault for Juve’s initial goal. Didn’t leave a mark on the match, on either end.
Villar: 6 Distributed the ball, but provided no threat to Juve defense while doing so.
Spinazzola: 6 former Juve hand motored up and down the field all match, always a key part of his game, but not able to come up with a key pass to threaten.
Mkhitaryan: active early, but it seemed clear that Pirlo’s plan involved neutralizing his ability to create space and passing lanes in and around the box..
Mayoral: 5 Also unable to find any exploitable space due to Juve CBs
Dzeko: 5 on for last 30 min, approx. seemed lively initially, but made little progress against Chiellini & Co. in the dreadful conditions late on. Launched a shot that might have broken an Allianz J-Stadium seat back.
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