Roma's Keys to Victory vs. Juventus: Roma Must Restrict Juve's Midfield Maestros
After missing out on a great opportunity to start his reign as caretaker manager with a win at Sampdoria, Aurelio Andreazzoli, will head into this weekend's fixtures with his team still searching for their first league win 2013.
Luckily for them, they're only playing Juventus, fresh from near assuring their place in the next round of Champions League.
These two sides are Serie A’s top scorers, with 100 goals shared evenly between them, so if there is one thing you can guarantee from this game, it’s a goal, or two.
You just need to look at the previous encounter between the two for proof of that.
Within the opening 20 minutes, a devastating Juventus side had already put the game beyond doubt, scoring three goals and dominating a game which eventually finished 4-1 in their favour.
The star man in that emphatic victory was Juve’s veteran Italian Andrea Pirlo.
That game saw him net the opener after 11 minutes, before controlling the play in a manner that’s come to be associated with the 33-year-old.
So far this season, Pirlo has solidified his reputation as one of Europe’s best playmakers with some impressive midfield displays, even if FIFA don’t agree.
With an 87 percent average pass accuracy, and with over 70 percent of his total passes developing attacks; Pirlo is a real danger man and one who Roma will be looking to do a better job of restricting this time around.
Roma will be counting their blessings that Italian ace Claudio Marchisio is suspended for this weekend's meeting.
Marchisio justified the recent hype surrounding his name with a stellar display at Parkhead against Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday.
From the moment the Italian international pounced on a half-hearted goal-line clearance to hand the visitors an early lead after only three minutes, to his beautifully judged pass to set up Mirko Vucinic to seal a 3-0 win with only seven minutes remaining, Marchisio ran the show—coming away with a goal, an assist and a fully deserved man of the match award.
But with ex Manchester United man Paul Pogba waiting in the wings, Roma should be wary of counting any chickens before they hatch.
The 19 year old, who recently admitted he left England due to Alex Ferguson, has impressed so far this season, making the most of the opportunities presented to him. With four goals, and a tendency to be involved in key attacks for Juve, Pogba provides a threat that Roma shouldn't take lightly.
However, Pirlo and Pogba aren't the only midfield maestros Juve have at their disposal who is likely to cause Roma problems. Roma may well also have Arturo Vidal to contend with. The box-to-box midfielder has added an extra creative spark to the Juve team this season, contributing five goals and seven assists.
Restricting Juventus' midfield maestros could be the key to the Giallorossi’s success this weekend.
A reinvigorated, reinstated Daniele De Rossi could play an important role in helping break down their illustrious opponents' midfield dominance. A good performance from him could go great lengths in helping get his, and that of his beloved Roma, season back on track.
While Juventus have been impressive going forward, like Roma, they too, have their own defensive issues. Most notably thanks to the Giorgio Chiellini-shaped hole in their back line.
In an excellent article on Goal.com, Kris Voakes examined Juventus' performance without their defensive rock. He concluded that: "Without his leadership and confidence, the rest of the defensive line has looked largely less assured."
The stats certainly back that up, with Juve's win percentage dropping from 68.42 percent to 62.50 percent without Chiellini.
With 14 goals conceded in 16 games, compared to 12 in 19 with Chiellini, the absence of the Italian defender is clearly a sore point and weakness for the Old Lady.
It'll be a weakness Roma's attacking side will be keen to take advantage of, with in-form strikers Pablo Osvaldo and Erik Lamela hoping to add to their 11-goal tallies.
If Roma are looking for inspiration to go out and grab an unlikely victory over the Old Lady in their next fixture, they need look no further than their opponents in their last.
Sampdoria, who triumphed over Roma in Aurelio Andreazzoli’s first game in charge on Sunday gone, pulled off one of the shocks of the season at Juventus Stadium, overcoming the Serie A champions 2-1 with a spirited performance.
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