Well, that was... something

Posted by Julian De Martinis

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesKevin Strootman and Roma suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday at Juventus.

It is somewhat difficult to write about Roma's 3-0 loss away to Juventus. Losing is not truly the issue; in the long term, taking until January for the side to experience their first defeat is really astonishing for Roma. The season, even with the loss taken into account, has been nothing but a very, very good one. The side are still second, with Champions League qualification in the hands of Rudi Garcia and his men alone.

- Report: Juventus 3-0 Roma

Big picture aside, the match against Juventus could not have gone any worse. At the start, it was actually going decently well. For the first fifteen minutes or so, Roma were bossing the match, taking the game to Juve in one of Italy's most inhospitable stadiums. Antonio Conte's side did not seem to mind much, soaking up the pressure and countering quickly. In that little detail reveals much about how Roma lost the match: Juve took advantage of their possession in the final third to create clear-cut chances, the first of which Arturo Vidal scored from after seventeen minutes. Roma, for the 56% possession they would have at the stadium, failed to create many genuine chances at all, let alone score one of them.

The gulf between the sides was evident: the home side are a deeper club with players that have known each other for much longer (bar the strike force). Stephan Lichtsteiner tormented Dodo on his flank, causing Garcia to trot on Vasilis Torosidis in the second half. Buried beneath the controversy that would come late in the second half is the fact that Torosidis actually did decently when he did come on.

Unfortunately, the real shame about the loss comes from that very controversy. Within two minutes Daniele De Rossi committed a horrible tackle and Leandro Castan used his hand to prevent a goal on the line, resulting in a sending off for both. With Roma already down by two goals after Leonardo Bonucci took advantage of awful defending to slide the ball into the net shortly after halftime, the side were then down two men as well. Mirko Vucinic rubbed salt into the wounds of his former club by slotting in the resulting penalty.

For the most part, few players come away from the game looking good. Adem Ljajic had perhaps his worst Roma game since coming over from Fiorentina, losing the ball far too often and sparking dangerous counters. His offensive teammates did not help much, with Gervinho and Francesco Totti both very disappointing today. De Rossi's red was simply unacceptable for a captain, wearing the armband for mere minutes after Totti was substituted, and Castan's sending off only made things worse.

Juventus are clearly the better team, and for all of the media hype about how this was a Scudetto standoff, it never truly was. There's simply no club in Italy that has the depth or mentality that Juventus have, and unfortunately Roma came away from the match not only in a losing position but in a very embarrassing one as well.

One loss is never the end of a season, especially not in January, and most especially when a loss in January is the first of the season. Garcia's task now is rather basic: get this game out of Roma's players' heads as quickly as possible. No De Rossi or Castan against Genoa will be another test for the side, but there is a lesson that can be taken from Sunday's rival as Juventus themselves roared back to life in the league after losing against Fiorentina.

For this to just be a small blimp on a fantastic season, Roma now must do the same.


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