It was truly a night of destiny at the Stadio Olimpico last night. Last weekend Roma Champions League ambitions started to slip away in what was a very disappointing 1-1 draw. Roma had to follow up hosting League champions Juventus. Even though Juventus had already wrapped up the title and didn’t have much to play for Roma vs Juventus is never an easy game the majority of the time you can throw out the records when two Italian football heavyweights go head-to-head it’s never a game in which you lie down both teams fights until the end. It may not be as important for both teams but no doubt it is a huge match. It was a match that Roma just could not afford to lose a loss yesterday night would have effectively seen their Champions League dream go up in flames. Juventus beat Roma 1-0 at the Allianz Stadium in the first meeting. Roma would try to avoid a season sweep meanwhile trying to save their season in hopes of an upset against Juventus. That is exactly what happened last night in what will turn out to be huge in a Roma Champions League race. It was a battle throughout the match and at many times it looked like Juventus was going to pull away however in that first house however Antonio Heroics saves early allowed Roma to take advantage in the second half. Roma left it late as Alexandro Florenzi scored a dramatic goal with 10 minutes remaining to give Roma the 1-0 lead. In the dying minutes of the match, Roma would double the lead as Edin Dzeko converts on a Roma breakaway in what was a 2-0 victory over Juventus. A match Roma cannot lose and a match that saves their Champions League season with only two games to go they are in a great position to achieve Champions League even if they don’t deserve it.
Late Drama has Roma Back in Champions League race
Last week I genuinely believed the Champions League’s was out of reach. Roma failed to beat Genoa in what was a 1-1 draw despite having a 1-0 lead with eight minutes to go. With Atlanta and AC Milan picking up wins it looked dead in the water. Don’t get me wrong Champions League football it’s something that Roma probably does not deserve based on the way they played this season. However, the competitiveness of this Champions League race has been as tight as ever. One minute it looks gone then the next you can be right back in it. Quite simply put losing last night was not an option Roma did not have a choice a loss yesterday would have effectively confirmed Roma’s elimination from the Champions League race. Something that is a massive deal not only because of what it means to play in the Champions League but because of the money that comes with it Roma have sold key players in four straight seasons missing out on the Champions League largely can affect the next coach that comes in. Those are things I do not wish to talk about or think about right now but that’s what was that stake yesterday. It wasn’t easy and it was a result I wasn’t expecting but in the end, Roma beat Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico as the old lady suffers their third loss of the season. There were many times in which it looks like Juventus was going to take advantage especially in the first half it looked like a draw was inevitable. However, they never gave up they showed tremendous character and battled to the very end. Incredible Communication between Cengiz Under, Edin Dzeko, and Alessandro Florenzi got in position to win the game as Florenzi gave Roma a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes ago. Edin Dzeko ended up scoring on a breakaway orchestrated by Under in the closing moments in what was a 2-0 victory. It truly was a victory that saved the season anything less than three points would have cost themselves Champions League next season. The Champions League may be out of their control but they have put set themselves up nicely to finish the job they will have to rely on results to go for them but six winnable points over the next two weeks could see them make the Champions League.
Juve Lose for Just Third Time this season
Juventus have the league title all wrapped up so essentially they had nothing to play for yesterday. However, with that being said, you didn’t really see a drop off in performance. Is this the same Juventus we saw at the beginning of the season? No, it is natural for them to be not as strong given they don’t have anything to prove for the rest this season. In fact, there were many times in this game that Juventus could have put it away. They didn’t beat themselves but Roma put together an incredible performance in a victory that Roma truly deserves. Roma is the only team in the top six to beat Juventus this season. This is not ranked high among Juventus greatest teams but certainly, from a statistical perspective, they have been at nothing short of a machine. Yesterday was only their third loss this year that is an astounding number especially in this day and age when you have football teams every week ready to take you out. To a certain extent, it shows the testament of how great they have been. They have benefited from teams around them dealing with dysfunction but nonetheless, they have been incredibly strong. They underachieved with expectations of Champions League but nonetheless, Juventus proved their worth amongst football elites. It wasn’t a great performance last night from Juventus but certainly, they did well enough to win the match. The League champions found ways to win games all season but yesterday they certainly helped their friends from Roma.
Cengiz Under’s Impact From the Bench
Cengiz Under is Roma’s most explosive player he has been truly sensational all season. However, after dealing with some injury issues, he has struggled to get back on that form. He has only started one game since Claudio Ranieri took over. He has struggled to get back to full health but now that he has it is utterly obvious that he should be starting at least some of the time. Roma has a young roster with a lot of talent throughout it and the Turkish star certainly deserves to be apart of the starting 11. That was so obvious yesterday his impact could not have been more important to the result of the game. He is a player they may be leaving at the end of the season but I believe they should do everything in their power to hold on to him because he is such a talent. I’m not sure whether it’s a formation issue or he hasn’t really got a chance to see Under for extended amount of time but there’s no question he should be starting games. The game was in the balance when he entered the game. He truly was a spark plug because almost immediately in a 0-0 game Roma made the Breakthrough. Cengiz Under supplied some brilliant sequence of passing with Alessandro Florenzi even though the assist went to Edin Dzeko who supplied a brilliant bass putting the ball exactly where it needed to be. Cengiz Under started at the sequence he was absolutely brilliant in his short amount of time. Then on Roma second goal, the Turkish star picked up the ball following a Juventus mistake that created an incredibly dangerous fast break. It was a 3 on 1 as he drove the ball through the Midfield as he posed as such a threat with El Shaarawy & Edin Dzeko beside him. He displayed incredible unselfishness something I’ve criticized for him before instead of going for the goal himself he made the intelligent pass to Edin Dzeko who scored to give Roma the 2-0 lead on the last kick of the game. He did not play a significant amount of minutes but he took advantage of the time he had you could argue that it was one of the most important components of the game. After a display like that, there is no question that Under has Justified the fact that he should be starting the final two games. We got a glimpse of what he was before his injury he played with confidence intelligence and was incredibly unselfish. He came off the bench and delivered. The Turkish star is so explosive you see his brilliance in moments like that he was sensational.
Rivalry Brewing Cristiano Ronaldo vs Alessandro Florenzi
A heated Exchange between Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexandro Florenzi occurred last night. It may not have been the biggest storyline but it still was a vocal point of a possible rivalry that has ignited. In an altercation, in the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo took shots at the left-back’s size. Alexandro Florenzi is a quick & athletic small left back. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo is a physical specimen standing at 6 foot 3. Cristiano Ronaldo allegedly told the Roma’s captain that he is too small to talk to him as well as calling him a dwarf. Cristiano Ronaldo may have seen it as a joke but Alexandro Florenzi was not having it. Causing the Roma right-back to fill with rage. Alexandro Florenzi had to be held back by his Roma teammates. Cristiano Ronaldo eventually patted him on the head and smiled. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s point of view, I believe his intent was just for some witty banter but that is not how the Roma captain saw it. Alessandro Florenzi had the last laugh though as he scored the winning goal in the 79th minute. Even after the fact Florenzi would still not over it. He was asked about the situation in his post-game interview and Florenzi did not hold back. ” just because he has won the Ballon d’Or does not mean he can say whatever he wants”. A rivalry between them certainly may be on the cusp next time Juventus play Roma Florenzi will not forget this even if Ronaldo as cruel as it may have been used his insults as a joke. After his comments in his post-game interview, he sends a warning shot at Ronaldo. Even if Ronaldo intent was not malicious clearly Florenzi took it personally we could be looking at an Italian football rivalry things really got heated. in the end, Alexandra Florenzi got the last laugh but I think this is far from over which will only intensify the Rivalry between Juventus and Roma.
Antino Mirante 11th player in History to record 100 Clean Sheets
Antonio Mirante took over for Robin Olsen a few months ago a decision that has shown it has paid off it honestly kind of makes you wonder where Roma would be right now if he was the starting goalkeeper from the very start of the season. Antonio Mirante, to say the least, he is 35 years old and has accumulated more than 300 appearances in Italian football. He was actually a youth product of Juventus even though he never played. Against Juventus, in a match, Roma absolutely needed to win he was absolutely breathtaking. At the beginning of the match, Juventus seem to have control and we’re really attacking Rome aggressively but Mirante kept things even when it seems like things were getting away from them he made crucial saves in big moments. His save on Pablo Dybala was unbelievable. You can’t fault Dybala for not scoring he could not have hit the ball better however Mirante made an outrageous save the majority of the goalkeepers in Italian football would not make. It looked like it was going to be a goal. He could not have performed any better than he did even at the advanced age of 35 Juventus could not beat him he was at his absolute best. It was a tremendous day after an unbelievable performance. However, Mirante also made history becoming only the 11th player in the history of Italian football to record 100 clean sheets further displaying his production. He is not going to go down as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history he will be recognized and acknowledged as a very solid goalkeeper who sustained quality over a long period of time. Nonetheless, a hundred clean sheets are historically great there are so many goalkeepers who have not achieved that and won’t achieve that. He has been one of the more consistent goalkeepers in his era. Never going to be truly recognized as one of the best goalkeepers in the world but incredibly consistent who over two decades has shown the ability and convection to deliver at the highest level.