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16 Feb 2013

Juve slip to defeat in the capital

Conte's men undone by Roma skipper Totti’s 58th minute strike at the Stadio Olimpico

Juventus slipped to a 1-0 defeat in the capital as a dogged Roma ground out their first win under caretaker manager Aurelio Andreazzolli.

The Bianconeri looked destined to emerge for the second half with all guns blazing after wielding control of the midfield battle, but found themselves pegged back by Francesco Totti’s 58th minute strike which would eventually prove the difference between the two sides.  

Andreazzolli had used his pre-match press conference to demand greater cutting edge from his charges, and it appeared his advice had been taken on board as the Giallorossi appeared the most likely to open the scoring in a lively opening at the Stadio Olimpico.

The hosts most potent goal threat, Osvaldo, twice unlocked the Bianconeri rearguard in the early stages of the contest. With seven minutes on the clock, the Argentine cut inside Bonucci before firing a right footed shot into the arms of Buffon.

And moments later, after straying clear of his marker with an intelligent dart into the channel, the striker rounded the Juve captain but was unable to pick out a team-mate with a low cross into the middle.

Having staved off initial Roma pressing, Juventus promptly settled into their rhythm and began to tip the midfield battle back in their favour.

Pirlo had the visitors’ most promising opportunity of a tightly-contested first half on 18 minutes, with the midfielder drawing an excellent diving save from Stekelenburg after directing a curling free-kick around the wall.

Pogba was next to try his luck from distance, gaining a yard of space outside of the box before unleashing a strike which was comfortably gathered by the Roma shot stopper at his near post.

As the metronomic Pirlo began to dictate proceedings in the centre of the park, an ill-judged challenge from Totti threatened to bring the midfielder’s evening to a premature conclusion on the half hour mark, with Bianconeri supporters breathing a collective sigh of relief as he returned to the action after receiving treatment on his knee.

After both sides had played out a combative first half lacking in clear-cut chances, a near capacity crowd at the Stadio Olimpico was treated to three goalscoring opportunities in five explosive opening minutes of the restart.

Osvaldo was first to go close, collecting Totti’s threaded through pass before prodding the ball just wide of the post, while Vucinic volleyed fractionally wide of the target after connecting with Pogba’s cut back. The trio of opportunities was completed by Pjanic, who stung the fingertips of Buffon courtesy of a well-struck shot from range.  

Conte subsequently opted to freshen up his side with the introductions of Giovinco and Padoin in place of Vucinic and Asamoah. The manager’s substitutions, however, were unable to stem the tide as the Bianconeri again had Buffon to thank for thwarting Osvaldo’s header when the striker seemed odds on to score.

And with the visitors on the back foot as Roma sensed an opportunity to make their increasing pressure count, Totti pounced on Pjanic’s blocked free-kick to lash an unstoppable strike past the despairing dive of Buffon on 58 minutes.

With Juventus requiring a way back into the affair, Conte’s final substitution of Vidal for Anelka prompted the implementation of an adventurous 3-4-3 system. The French frontman almost made an instant impact with a perfectly weighted through ball for Giovinco, only for the striker to pass up the opportunity at the vital moment.  

As the Bianconeri continued to the up ante courtesy of controlled aerial assaults on the opposition penalty area, Roma were forced to rely on the bravery of Stekelenburg, who dealt admirably with several dangerous crosses to protect his team’s lead.

Juventus will now use the week ahead to recharge their batteries after a gruelling three games in the space of seven days, with next weekend’s visit of Siena providing an excellent opportunity to get their title aspirations back on course.  

ROMA 1-0 JUVENTUS

GOAL: Totti 58

ROMA
Stekelenburg; Piris, Marquinhos, Burdisso; Torosidis, De Rossi, Pjanic (Bradley 68), Marquinho (Balzaretti 83); Lamela, Osvaldo, Totti (Florenzi 88).
Substitutes not used: Goicoechea, Lobont, Romagnoli, Taddei, Perrotta, Lucca, Tachtsidis, Nico Lopez.
Manager: Andreazzoli

JUVENTUS
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Lichtsteiner, Vidal (Anelka 71), Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah (Padoin 56); Matri, Vucinic (Giovinco 56).
Substitutes not used: Storari, Rubinho, Giaccherini, Isla, Marrone, Quagliarella.
Manager: Conte
      
REFEREE: Rocchi
ASSISTANTS: Di Liberatore, Manganelli
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Tonolini