Archive for September 23rd, 2007

Serie A matchday 4 – A feast for the eyes, Roma-Juve ends 2-2

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Serie AThe big Italian league clashes are back! In the first important match-up of Serie A, two of the Scudetto contenders Roma and Juventus played a most entertaining fixture today, and delighted the 70,000 spectators of the Stadio Olimpico with a game filled with excitement, tension, and beautiful plays. At the end of the day though, those who can be most happy about the result are the Bianconeri, who grabbed their 2-2 equalizer thanks to a Vincenzo Iaquinta header in the 87′.

Roma-Juve 2-2

A great view of the Stadio Olimpico minutes before the match

Roma-Juve was in terms of play, a delight to watch. Both teams stepped onto the Stadio Olimpico grass today without any offensive inhibitions, in the case of Juve more by necessity than by choice, given their less-than-perfect defensive conditions. Sometimes to win a match it’s all a matter of scoring more goals than your opponent. The Giallorossi played a superior game with regards to play inventiveness perhaps, but those that will claim this was a steal for the ‘Old Lady’ would be dead wrong, because the Bianconeri fought their heart out and never gave up. Their reward came in the 87′ thanks to Vincenzo Iaquinta, the best of Ranieri‘s men today.

The match had only begun for five minutes that Roma obtained their first chance. A penetrating pass by Francesco Totti found Marco Cassetti on the right wing, who then went for the diagonal shot. Gigi Buffon surpassed himself and parried away into corner. A great way to set the pace of the match.

David Trezeguet celebrates his 100th goal in Serie A After a short study period, it would however be Juve to get on the scoreboard first. A greatly orchestrated Bianconeri action, stemming from Alessandro Del Piero opening up for Vincenzo Iaquinta, sent the ex-Udinese striker deep down the right wing with acres of space. Adjusting his cross, Iaquinta spotted David Trezeguet in front of the net and delivered a perfect cross to the first post, a pass that just had to be flicked inside the first post. Goal nº100 in Serie A for Trezegol, and his 5th this season; Raymond Domenech (who was present in the stands today) must have surely enjoyed it. It also meant the first conceded goal for the Giallorossi, European cups included.

The choice of Claudio Ranieri to try out an untested 4-3-1-2 formation, with Nedved, C.Zanetti, and Nocerino (Almirón was out injured) in the middle providing the defensive midfield cover, and Del Piero supporting the lone strikers Trezeguet and Iaquinta, proved to be a succesful bet. Del Piero accepted his new role without too many complaints, Iaquinta was finally trying hard (and succeeding!) with his fast penetrating runs, and Trezeguet played the part of the goal poacher to perfection (as usual). Juve nearly went 2-0 up as their captain obtained a free kick close to the box, but Del Piero’s delivery was only a millimeters over the bar.

Francesco Totti celebrates his goal. The race for the topscoring title is ON!However, it only took Roma 30 minutes to fight back. Providing the delivery as is often the case, ‘Il Capitano’. Exploiting a good feed by Mançini and a delightful first touch, Francesco Totti created enough space in the box to consider his options, then cooly place an instep shot past Gigi Buffon to tie the game. There were suspicions of a foul by the Roma captain on Juve defender Domenico Criscito just before the goal, and replays showed that Totti was in an offside position at the moment of the pass, but no matter the goal stood.

Five minutes later, Roma took the lead. From a great aerial pass of Cicinho (on for the injured Cassetti) all the way to the left for Mançini, the Brazilian winger started his feinting magic and delivered a low cross to the center of the Juve box. Alberto Aquilani had made the run, controlled, and blasted it low towards the net. Once again Buffon made a miracle save, but on the ensuing rebound the Juve defense went to sleep, allowing Totti to power it in from 8 yards. 2-1 Roma.

Just before the half-time break Juve had the chance to pull level, again on a beautiful one-touch football display: following a long cross to the left, the ball was flicked on by Iaquinta and left by Trezeguet for Del Piero in the center. The Juve captain tried the right-footed half-volley on the go, but his powerful shot was too central, allowing the Roma keeper to parry away and save his team. For now.

Ale Del Piero just missed a P.K…The 1st half thus ended on a 2-1 advantage for the home team, but this match was far from over. Right after the break, the emotions picked up right where they had left, as Juve obtained yet another chance to pull level. With Juve in possession, Juventus winger Pavel Nedved got sandwiched between Juan and De Rossi in the box, forcing referee Morganti to point to the spot. Del Piero provided the penalty-taking honours, but something you won’t see very often in Serie A took place: the Juve captain sent the ball over the bar!

The captain’s miss from the dot was a big blow for the Bianconeri, but it could have been even bigger had Simone Perrotta scored the 3-1 tally with an open net shortly after. Exploiting a rapid 3 vs. 2 counterattack, the ball landed to Rodrigo Taddei on the right wing, who then crossed it for Perrotta who had started it all. The Roma midfielder’s volley was however over the bar, with Buffon helpless.

Avoiding the goal wasn’t however without consequences for Juve, who had to lose their central back Jorge Andrade to injury on the play (word is it could be a twisted knee for the Portuguese international). On came Alessandro Birindelli, as Zdenek Grygera moved from right-back to center. Juve’s new defensive line was then composed of Birindelli, Grygera, Legrottaglie (on for Criscito at the break), and Chiellini. Not exactly an iron curtain. Roma tried their luck multiple times, the most notable of which a powerful Totti shot on set pieces, on which Juve’s nº1 had to summon his best goalkeeping abilities (especially on the ensuing Mançini rebound). Perrotta continued to push hard, demonstrating unbelievable stamina: you almost would not believe this was the same guy that just played an important CL match last Wednesday. In the end however, Roma’s collective tiredness (that, and Cicinho’s naiveté) would eventually prove fatal and cost them 2 valuable points.

Vincenzo Iaquinta has just tied the match for Juve!!With Roma ready to execute a throw-in deep in their half, the Brazilian wing-back took too long to put the ball back in play, prompting the referee to turn the throw the other way. Juventus sent their long-throw specialist (Giorgio Chiellini) do his job, and boy did he deliver. Executing a perfect service inside the box, Chiellini found Vincenzo Iaquinta 7-8 yards away from goal. The ex-Udinese captain invented an amazing reverse looping header, which had Doni completely fooled. Juan’s last ditch attempt to save the goal was too late, and Juve pulled level 2-2 in the 87th! What a match!


A.S. Roma
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 17’ Trezeguet (J) 30’, 36’ Totti (R), 87’ Iaquinta (J)
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cassetti (28′ Cicinho), Mexès, Juan, Tonetto – De Rossi, Aquilani – Taddei (84’ Brighi), Perrotta, Mançini (62’ Giuly) – Totti. (bench: Curci, Ferrari, D.Pizarro, Vucinic). Coach: Spalletti.
JUVENTUS (4-3-1-2): Buffon – Grygera, Andrade (53’ Birindelli), Criscito (46’ Legrottaglie), Chiellini – Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Nedved – Del Piero (74’ Palladino) – Iaquinta, Trezeguet. (bench: Vanstrattan, Molinaro, Tiago, Salihamidzic). Coach: Ranieri.