The two great Italian rivals went head to head in the marquee match of the Serie A round 21 which offered less excitement that the fans would have hoped for.
Italian champions Juventus worked hard to extend their impressive run and remain in the title race with the leaders Napoli, who are only two points clear of the Bianconeri.
Following Juventus’ 1-0 win over Spalletti’s team, here are the five things we learned:
Juventus are title favourites
Massimiliano Allegri has received his fair share or criticism at the beginning of the season, when his team struggled to keep pace early in the campaign.
The Old Lady did have plenty of problems without their key players from the last season, and it was difficult to cope with the departures of Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal.
Allegri worked hard to pick up his team and has done a wonderful job having not given up on his ideas despite the huge pressure from the public and the media. The Italian tactician deserves credit for Juventus’ latest results and the fantastic run of 11 league wins on the bounce.
Bianconeri were made to work hard for their three points on Sunday night against resilient AS Roma and their tight defending, but their 15 shots to 6 from AS Roma speak volumes of Juventus’ desire and determination to record an important home win which keeps them in the title loop.
Serie A leaders Napoli have only two points of advantage and Juventus will have the chance to leapfrog their main title contenders as early as on 13th February when they are due to welcome Partenopei in the clash that could potentially offer some answers regarding the this year’s Scudetto race.
Paolo Dybala justifying the price tag
The young Argentinean is Juventus’ key player.
Paolo Dybala’s tender age is contrast to his mature performances and Massimiliano Allegri is right to place great trust into the 22-year-old forward.
Former Palermo man was impressive against AS Roma. Dybala was everywhere on the pitch, collecting balls deep into his own half, creating chances for his teammates in the middle of the park and finishing plays up front.
He fired four shots to AS Roma’s goal this evening, but his brilliant flair and explosive pace made him a constant threat to his rivalling numbers. With Dybala in their team, Juventus have gained a great deal of creativity and style, which allowed them to redefine their this season’s outlook.
Dybala has been directly involved in Juventus’ 19 goals this season with seven assists and 12 goals of his own.
Paolo Dybala is without a doubt the star of the moment for Juventus and he has already justified the hefty price-tag of £22.4 million Juventus paid for him.
Spalletti needs time
AS Roma new manager has made instant progress having tightened up the defence line of his team, but the experiments he performed with Juventus will just need time to yield results.
Luciano Spalleti revamped AS Roma’s shape against Juventus by deploying Danielle De Rossi in a three-man defence line, along with Radja Nainggolan as the trequartista in front of the midfield row, replacing Miralem Pjanic in his familiar role.
It didn’t work well against Juventus as the formation was supposed to give Alessandro Florenzi and Lucas Digne more freedom to push forward, but instead left Mohamed Salah out of his comfort zone, with the pacey Egiptian cut off up front in attempt to provide service to Edin Dzeko.
Former Chelsea man was invisible, while the Bosnian struggled to perform his target role having been tightly marked by Giorgio Chiellini.
Luciano Spalletti deserves credit for shuffling up his team against Juventus, but he will need to be given time in order to guide the team forward.
Midfield battle and lack of edge
Tonight’s derby game was short of proper excitement for much of the proceedings.
With nine men packed in the centre of the park, the main battle was held in the midfield. Spalletti fielded four men in the midfield with Miralem Pjanic lying deeper than what he would have liked it, while Allegri deployed five in the centre with Evra and Lichtsteiner covering the flanks and running lines both in defence and attack.
Juventus dominated the possessions with 57.2% to AS Roma’s 42.8% which can be attributed to their tight midfield lead by Paul Pogba, who was once again on top of his game. The Frenchman provided the assist for Dybala match-winner and was one of the most prominent performers in Allegri’s team.
Juventus ultimately managed to break the deadlock after 15 shots towards the AS Roma’ goal, seven of which were on target, four blocked and four off target.
Title race hating up
Juventus will have gained a massive morale boost in their title bid following the win over AS Roma.
Still two points behind leaders Napoli, the Old Lady are four clear of Fiorentina and Inter. Roberto Mancini’s troops are losing points and pace and it all looks as if the title race will be a battle between two teams, that are due to meet in February for a proper title decider.
It is still early to make bold title predictions as all the teams will have to careful not to slip up and lose points in the process as that could might as well cost them their title bids.
AS Roma are currently sitting in fifth, ten points behind Juventus and their main aim will be to grab the UEFA Champions League spot.
JUVENTUS: Buffon 6.5 – Barzagli 6.5, Bonucci 7, Chiellini 7 – Lichtsteiner 6.5 (Cuadrado 6.5), Khedira 6.5, Marchisio 7.5, Pogba 7.5, Evra 7 – Dybala 8 (Morata 6), Mandzukic 6.5.
Unused subs: Alex Sandro, Asamoah, Audero, Caceres, Hernanes, Neto, Padoin, Rugani, Sturaro, Zaza.
AS ROMA: Szczesny 6.5 – Manolas 6.5, De Rossi 6.5, Rudiger 6 – Florenzi 6.5 (Torosidis 6), Vainqueur 6.5 (Keita 6), Pjanic 6.5, Digne 6.5 – Nainggolan 6.5 – Dzeko 6.5, Salah 6 (Umar 6).
Unused subs: Leandro, De Sanctis, Falque, Gyomber, Lobont, Emerson, Totti.
REFEREE: Luca Banti
Other results this evening:
Fiorentina 2-0 Torino
Inter 1-1 Carpi
Lazio 4-1 Chievo
Palermo 4-1 Udinese
Sampdoria 2-4 Napoli
Sassuolo 0-2 Bologna
Verona 1-1 Genoa
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