Totti’s Cannon Shot Stops Juventus Run

By Andrea Lorini On February 16, 2013 @ 11:05 pm In Football (Soccer) | No Comments

AS Roma’s Francesco Totti shields the ball from Juventus defender Martin Caceres at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Feb. 16, 2013. (Giuseppe Cacece/AFP/Getty Images)

AS Roma’s Francesco Totti shields the ball from Juventus defender Martin Caceres at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Feb. 16, 2013. (Giuseppe Cacece/AFP/Getty Images)

A cannonball from 25 meters at a speed of 98 km/h by Roma captain Francesco Totti slowed Juventus in their quest for a second straight Serie A championship on Saturday in Rome.

It had been 10 years since Roma beat the “Old Lady” in the Olympic Stadium. After a spectacular 3–0 win in the Champions League against Celtic last Tuesday, a tired Juve bowed before a determined Roma, which continues to recover from a poor start to 2013.

That Roma collected only two points from the beginning of the year, manager Zdenek Zeman fired, the controversy and discontent of the fans—all of this disappeared in a great evening that looked like a resurrection for the club.

One can feel a tone of disappointment and controversy in the words that Juventus coach Antonio Conte said to Sky after the game.

“Today we did not play as a team. Congratulations to Roma, but there is regret: An extra day would have been allowed us to recover and better prepare for the game,” Conte said. “I hope in the future there will be a bit more respect for an Italian team that plays in Europe.”

“We have put heart and soul in this,” said Roma coach Aurelio Andreazzoli to Sky. “[It was nice to] beat Juve as we did, naturally and with boldness, taking them on the physical plane,” he said.

“We couldn’t get out of the tunnel,” said Totti after the match, referring to the black period of two draws in six games. Totti spoke about how important was the win. “It shows that the team is alive and by winning against one of the best teams in the world we have proven to be great players.”

The match came to life in the second half. Roma showed the determination, finding the goal from outside the area in the 58th minute. Totti sent a fireball of a kick in near the top corner.

In the first half the teams were balanced, although the pace of the game was dictated by Juve. The Old Lady has faced all the challenges with great personality, both away and at home, both in Serie A and the Champions League.

Roma relied on the counterattack, using the awesome speed of Pablo Osvaldo—a constant thorn in the side for the Juventus defense. The striker was joined up front by Erik Lamela, who is technically sound but, on this day, made some unnecessary touches and was sometimes inaccurate controlling the ball.

Juve, weakened by the absence of Claudio Marchisio—who proved to be their secret weapon in February—suffered up top. Both Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic were inconclusive and never dangerous.

The best of Juve was to be seen in defense. The two giants Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci defended everything that could be defended. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was decisive on several occasions too.

Roma started well with midfielder Daniele De Rossi who harpooned important balls in the middle of the field. He contrasted, pressed, and conquered, but his enthusiasm was excessive and he paid for it soon. In the 18th minute, he was booked for a heavy foul on Stephan Lichtsteiner, the absolute master of the right wing for Juventus—a tireless locomotive, with relentless offensive progressions and precious recoveries on defense.

Chances by Osvaldo were numerous from the start, but it was Juve to have the first chance on goal. In the 19th minute, Andrea Pirlo took a free kick from outside the box, hitting the bottom corner at the near post. Roma keeper Maarten Stekelenburg stretched in the air and deflected the shot for a corner kick.

The Juve possession began taking shape. Roma tried to pressure high up the pitch, but in an uncoordinated manner, and only managed to get tired. So, at the cries of Andreazzoli, they withdrew and waited in their own half for the advancing Juventus.

Leading up to Totti’s goal, over a period of 12 minutes in the second half there were four thrilling scoring opportunities—two for each side.

The Olympic Stadium celebrated at the goal of Totti and followed with one chorus after another. The shock wave accompanied the victory of Roma until the end.

Juve was numb, visibly tired, and could not change the pace of the game. In the final minutes, Buffon was tested on several occasions and the Greek Vassilis Torosidis guided many of the attacks at a rapid speed.

Juve’s unbeaten streak ended at five games and Napoli, in second place just five points behind now has a great opportunity to get closer to the leaders.

Roma moved into seventh place in the standings. The joy remains for a deserved and difficult victory and will provide a boost in the quest for a Champions League spot.

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