Juventus 3-0 Roma: 6 Things We Learned
Juve went eight points clear at the top of Serie A with an emphatic 3-0 victory against their closest rivals, Roma.
In doing so, the Bianconeri handed the Giallorossi their first defeat of the season and seemingly ended any possibility of a title race in Italy.
Arturo Vidal put the champions ahead against the run of play before second-half strikes from Leonardo Bonucci and Mirko Vucinic, combined by reckless red cards for Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Castan, meant that the Zebrette humbled the Lupi.
Obviously, we have learned that the title race is almost certainly over and that a third consecutive scudetto for Juve will probably be enough to take away the bitter taste of being dumped out of the Champions League at the group stages.
But here are six more things we learned from an engrossing encounter at the Juventus Stadium on Sunday.
Conte Showed Ultimate Tactical Respect to Roma
Antonio Conte showed a Serie A rival the ultimate respect by changing his tactics to specifically suit the opposition for one of the first times in his time at the club.
The fact that it was at home made it even more astounding, as Roma assumed control for large spells either side of Arturo Vidal's opening goal.
Conte was content to see his side sit back and allow the Giallorossi to sweep the ball from side to side in front of two wide banks of four.
By restricting them space between the lines and down the flanks, Roma struggled to use possession to their advantage.
The plan worked marvelously with the Old Lady breaking the deadlock, meaning Rudi Garcia's men began to force the play a little more, providing more opportunities for Juve to launch more dangerous counter-attacks.
So Conte swallowed humble pie somewhat and moved away from his basic instincts as a coach.
But by moving away from his principles, he laid out the master plan for his side to dispatch perhaps their only rival for the title this season.
Arturo Vidal Is the Most Complete Player in the World Currently
Perhaps not something that was ultimately discovered in this game but Arturo Vidal's performance certainly emphasized the point that he is Europe's most complete footballer currently.
With the tactical awareness to perform a positional, pressing role for the side in the opening stages, Vidal showcased his versatility to fit into any tactical plan.
Not long after though, Vidal's main asset was on display, with a superbly timed run into the penalty area to open the scoring.
It is a skill that is rarely lauded, but Vidal has mastered it to great effect, and only Frank Lampard can compare in recent times in this regard.
Vidal was also revelling in the pattern of the game that unfolded, sweeping passes into space or onto the toes of onrushing team-mates in devastating counter-attacks.
Vidal is on a different level currently, and tonight's performance cemented his place as the most complete player around.
Juve 1-0 up through the world's best all-round footballer, Arturo Vidal. First thing Juve have done, to be honest.— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) January 5, 2014
Rudi Garcia Continues to Win Plaudits with Tactical Stubbornness
Rudi Garcia demonstrated his tactical stubbornness against Juve, which was admirable but perhaps not wise.
The former Lille coach set his side out in the same manner that he has done all season, with Miralem Pjanic given license to roam from midfield and Gervinho with Adem Ljajic positioned either side of centre-forward Francesco Totti.
It meant that Roma were not only dependent on assuming control of the game but also taking the lead in the early stages, as Juve had great success counter-attacking and exposing the large gaps between the lines of Roma's formation.
It was bold and brave of the Frenchman to set up in this way and showed great trust in his players who were unbeaten up to this point in the season, but a second way of playing might be required if Roma are to achieve a more sustained title push.
Totti's Role May Need Redefining If Others Copy Juve's Strategy
Francesco Totti cut an isolated figure for Roma against Juventus, often frustrated at the lack of touches he received and mostly crowded out whenever the ball did reach him.
Yes, Totti is yet to completely recover from his injury earlier in the season, but other sides may attempt to copy Juve's strategy in order to nullify Totti's impact.
In order for Totti to become more involved in the game, he started to drop deeper, thus vacating his position as the side's centre-forward and removing any Giallorossi presence in and around the penalty area.
So Garcia might look at another formation or a change in personnel, perhaps involving Mattia Destro initially from a wide role, with the freedom to move into the space vacated by Totti once he drops deep.
Vucinic's Return a Blessing for Conte
Mirko Vucinic returned from injury for Juventus after a month out, and the Montenegrin can prove to be a real asset to Juve in the remaining months of the season, even if it is not as a starter.
Vucinic was able to occupy himself on the shoulder of the last man of Roma's defence when the visitors were pushing for a way back into the game.
By doing so, Juve had a more mobile presence ready to facilitate their counter-attacks and release the ball quicker into the space for those joining up from deep.
Vucinic's touch and control, combined with his willingness to run the channels make him the perfect substitution for Juve in order to change games when things aren't going so well, or expose the opposition when they need to commit more men forward.
Dispatching the penalty will have done Vucinic's confidence a world of good as well, whether he can displace Fernando Llorente from the starting line-up is another matter.
Roma Will Need to Improve Discipline to Go to the Next Level
Roma will need to improve their discipline if they are to arrive at the next level.
It was a massive game for Roma, a test to see whether they could be considered genuine title contenders.
They showed that they belong at this level in the first half, but the second half turned into a disaster.
With their discipline the main factor in the side unraveling toward the end, Juve capitalized to embarrass them.
Initially, it was the appalling marking at a set piece to allow Leonardo Bonucci to coast in unmarked and score a second goal for Juve.
But later in the half, Roma committed sporting suicide with both Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Castan seeing red for their stupidity.
A rash, dangerous tackle from De Rossi and a blatant act of cheating from Castan meant that Roma went out in a disappointing manner that will need addressing the next time a game slips away from their grasp in a similar way to Sunday's game.
Losing is not the end, and perhaps they can be forgiven for the way that they behaved as it was the first time that they have tasted defeat this season, but better character needs to be exhibited, especially when things are on the slide, if they are to become legitimate title contenders.
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