Jan 5, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
Serie A’s match of the year was anything but, even if it did leave little doubt as to the state of Juventus’s reign. With goals from Arturo Vidal, Leonardo Bonucci, and Mirko Vucinic, the two-time defending champions handed Roma their first loss of the season, eliminating what little hope onlookers had for a title race with a 3-0 result in Turin. Now on a nine-game winning streak that’s carried them eight points clear of the second place Giallorossi, Juventus seems fated to claim a third straight scudetto.
The win, however, came in a somewhat uncharacteristic way, with Antonio Conte setting up his normally ball-controlling team (57.4 percent for the year) to descend into its own half, giving Roma most of the game’s possession. Rudi Garcia’s team would end up with 59 percent of the ball, yet almost none of their four shots on goal gave Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon any problems. Maintaining a well-organized back five in their defensive phase, Juventus were able to keep Roma at arm’s length, with only two of Roma’s eight shots coming from inside the 18-yard box.
Juventus, on the other hand, made the most of their chances, the first coming in the 17th minute through Carlos Tévez. The Argentine was able to get Daniele de Rossi on his heals in the right of the penalty area, holding the ball at 10 yards out before playing behind the line for an oncoming Vidal. The Chilean international beat Morgan de Sanctis to give the home side first blood.
Following intermission, after blunting Roma for the first period’s final half hour, Juve doubled their lead, a pristine restart from Andrea Pirlo allowing Bonucci to make it 2-0. Sixteen yards from the line along the left flank, Pirlo curved a perfectly driven restart just inside the six-yard box at the far post. Unable to get out quick enough, de Sanctis was helpless on Bonucci’s shot, a goal that seemed to eliminate any question Juventus would take full points.
If that status was in doubt, it was settled over a three-minute stretch beginning with de Rossi’s 75th minute red card. After a reckless challenge that saw the Italian international slide through Giorgio Chiellini’s legs, referee Nicola Rizzoli produced a red card, momentarily leaving Roma with 10 men. When, one minute later, Leandro Castán intentionally handled a ball on the Roma line, the visitors were reduced to nine, with Mirko Vucinic’s ensuing penalty kick giving Juventus their 3-0 victory.
That the game ended with a three-goal margin may have exaggerated the teams’ gap in quality, but there was no doubt which was the superior side. Juventus gave Roma the ball and dared Garcia’s side to beat them, yet from the moment Pirlo took the ball off Fernando Totti in the opening minutes to the Roma captain’s solemn descent from the stands at the final whistle, the Giallorossi proved impotent. Silenced, the likes of Totti, Gervinho, Adem Ljajic and Miralem Pjanic were unable to reproduce Roman’s potent attack in Turin, a failure that leaves the team closer to fourth than first.
Over the course of 90 minutes, the difference between Juventus and the rest of Italy was made crystal clear. An undefeated team that came into the game averaging over two goals per game was handed a 3-0 loss, pushing them eight points back of first in the process. They’d only allowed seven goals on the season, but on Sunday, Roma’s previous exploits were rendered irrelevant. All that mattered was their inability to match up with Juve.
Barring some unpredictable change of course, Serie A’s title race is over – assuming there was ever one to being with.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT
Where and how to watch every single PL game live online or via the app during Week 34.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:07 AM EDT
USMNT winger/back DeAndre Yedlin is on the bench for Spurs.
Apr 25, 2015, 12:21 AM EDT
FC Dallas took the lead into halftime, but a second half red card to Blas Perez let Colorado sneak back for a point.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
Tony Pulis is known for turning around struggling clubs, but the West Brom manager says he is more than just a last resort.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT
David Accam’s first MLS goal was enough for Chicago to down a NYCFC side that played more than 60 minutes a man down.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT
Tim Howard takes on his former club Manchester United, while Brad Guzan looks to keep Manchester City off the scoresheet.
Apr 24, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
Finding a club to pay his $150,000 per week wages is the only problem for Spurs.
Apr 24, 2015, 7:46 PM EDT
The Baggies must defend The Hawthorns as Liverpool is barely clinging on to top-four dreams.
Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
Clinging onto safety in the Premier League, Hull City players now have some added incentive to avoid the drop.
Apr 24, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT
Still in his first season as manager at Old Trafford, LVG has already endorsed his top assistant to be the next in line.
Apr 24, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT
Can Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa continue their climb up the table at the Etihad?
Apr 24, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT
PST’s Joe Prince-Wright sat down with the Southampton defender to see how the Saints’ skipper has evolved into one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.
Apr 24, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
In the latest PST Extra we take a quick look at why whispers about managers losing their jobs at Liverpool, Man City are getting louder.
Apr 24, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the scores in the PL this weekend.
Apr 24, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT
Spurs are reportedly in talks with the NFL about housing a franchise in their new stadium.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
What do you think of these 11 players getting Team of the Year honors?
Apr 24, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 34.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Mourinho stirs the pot before huge clash with Arsenal on Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT
Can Saints get revenge on Pochettino as he returns to St Mary’s? Watch live, Saturday, 7:45 a.m ET.
Apr 24, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT
Jose Mourinho has delivered an update on Costa’s progress ahead of Sunday’s big game.
- WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 34 0
- Watch Live: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Lineups and Live Stream) 0
- Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool 0
- SportsWorld: Jose Fonte talks playing with Ronaldo, shares thoughts on MLS 0
- Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Time for the underdogs to shine 0
- WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 34 0