Juventus 1-1 Roma: different systems but an evenly-balanced match
A cracker from Vincenzo Iaquinta and a Francesco Totti penalty meant it was a point apiece.
Juventus stuck with the 4-4-2 system they’ve used for most of the campaign. Frederik Sorensen was a starter at right-back, whilst on the other side Fabio Grosso continued. Alessandro Del Piero was omitted with Fabio Quagliarella and Iaquinta upfront.
Claudio Ranieri played the 4-3-1-2 system he’s favoured in recent weeks. Marco Borriellowas left out with Mirko Vucinic, Francesco Totti and Jeremy Menez forming the attacking trident. Leando Greco and Fabio Simplicio were either side of the midfield three.
The first half was a very good game, with either side stronger in different areas of the pitch. Naturally, Roma dominated the midfield and therefore had more possession, but Juve were better at actually creating chances and getting the ball into dangerous positions.
Both sides were of interest individually. Juventus used a back four, but Grosso pushed forward and Sorensen tucked in slightly on the other side (the Dane was making just his second start but is supposedly more of a centre-back than a right-back). Grosso’s presence on the left allowed Claudio Marchisio to move into the centre of the pitch and make sure Juve weren’t outnumbered in that area.
On the other flank, Simone Pepe played a very different role. He stayed wide when Juventus were on the attack, and he also covered Sorensen very well when Juventus lost the ball. He is often a frustrating player but was the clear dangerman here, putting numerous crosses into the box.
The other player on top of his game was Alberto Aquilani, and he assisted the first goal when he moved out to Pepe’s flank and put a low cross in – Iaquinta brilliantly swivelled and took the ball in mid-air, guiding it perfectly into the far corner. The goal had looked likely to come from wide positions – that flank, specifically, considering Marchisio wasn’t playing as a winger on the left – and Roma’s shape didn’t offer much protection for the two full-backs.
Roma’s 4-3-1-2 often looked more like a 4-3-2-1 when Totti dropped deep – reminiscent of the way their front three played in 2001/02, when Totti and Antonio Cassano would be fielded alongside a main striker. Their shape was very fluid at the top end of the pitch – Totti went deep, Menez moved from flank to flank whilst Vucinic drifted to the left. Still, there was not enough support from midfield until Simplicio moved forward in the second half. Totti’s penalty followed a slightly unfortunate handball from Pepe, attempting to block a free-kick.
Felipe Melo played a crucial role in stopping Roma creating in open play, taking up very deep positions in front of his own defence and making sure the Roma trident didn’t simply pass its way around Juventus’ centre-backs. He was helped by the fact Aquilani was having a great game and was dominating the midfield almost single-handedly – the situation in terms of formations (with Juventus wide players generally in space) suiting his inclination to knock the ball from flank to flank perfectly.
Two substitutions for the second half, but no real change in system. Aleandro Rosi replaced Marco Cassetti, whilst Armand Traore replaced Grosso, who looked unable to play the required role in terms of fitness – after a long period out, three games in a week was too much for him. Traore made a positive impact – he was more of an attacking threat and had a relatively easy debut as he had no direct opponent.
The game became stretched as the second half wore on, but the centre-backs were having good games – particularly Philippe Mexes and Giorgio Chiellini.
Juve got 4-3-3
Roma changed little tactically aside from bringing on Matteo Brighi for Greco and moving Simplicio to the left, but Gigi Delneri went for it late on. After replacing Iaquinta with Del Piero, he then brought on Amauri for Marchisio, moving to a slightly lopsided 4-3-3 with the midfield line to the right of the pitch, and the forward line to the left.
Quagliarella almost scored an incredible volley from 30 yards but Julio Sergio saved well, whilst Aquilani’s shot from the edge of the was blocked when Sergio looked beaten. Menez was Roma’s most dangerous player, scampering between the lines and finding space well, but neither side could score a second.
The two different shapes made for an interesting game, and to a certain extent the nature was predictable from simply looking at the above diagram – Roma had a lot of the ball by retaining it in midfield, whilst Juventus were more dangerous as their wingers were able to take on the opposition full-backs quickly.
Juve now look a good side with a cohesive, settled shape that makes the most of their players’ abilities. Aquilani was excellent and the two new full-backs, Sorensen and Traore, had good games.
Roma seemed to hold the ball for too long in midfield. They missed an on-form David Pizarro, who was the best player in this fixture last year, providing the cross for John Arne Riise’s late winner. It remains to be seen whether Ranieri can accommodate him in this shape, but whilst Simplicio and Greco provide the energy, they don’t have anything like Pizarro’s passing range.Juventus 1-1 Roma: different systems but an evenly-balanced match