Juventus utterly humiliated Roma with a perfect first half performance in a confident 4-1 victory.
This has always been a bitter grudge match, but was stepped up a few notches due to the presence of Zdenek Zeman, who has long run campaigns against Juve’s power and prompted an investigation into their use of medication. As a result, the number of stewards around the visitor’s bench was trebled due to safety concerns.
Mirko Vucinic faced his former club with Alessandro Matri, Paolo De Ceglie and Martin Caceres stepping in. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo returned from injury to complete the trident with Francesco Totti and Erik Lamela, but Miralem Pjanic and Michael Bradley were sidelined.
Juve had the first real chance when a Caceres low ball went right across the face of the six-yard box, but Matri and then Claudio Marchisio were just unable to get the final touch.
Straight away there was controversy after 10 minutes when Marchisio ran on to a long ball and was clear on goal, but Rodrigo Taddei clipped his heels on the very edge of the box. The referee opted for a yellow card, as Marchisio had not actually trapped the ball yet.
It proved a decisive moment anyway, as Andrea Pirlo kept the free kick low and powerful to split the massive defensive wall, beating Maarten Stekelenburg at the base of the near post.
There was absolute chaos moments later, as Stekelenburg came tearing out to anticipate Marchisio, then the Matri follow-up was charged down by Leandro Castan’s arm. The referee spotted it and awarded a penalty, booking the defender.
Arturo Vidal stepped up and converted successfully by firing it over Stekelenburg, putting Juve 2-0 up after just 16 minutes.
Lamela got behind Giorgio Chiellini, but volleyed wide from a very promising position on Francesco Totti’s long cross.
Just 30 seconds later Matri sprung the offside trap to go totally clear on goal from a Vidal pass over the top, all the time to chest it down and fire in despite Stek getting a knee to it. It was Matri’s first Juventus goal since February against Milan.
The Roma defence was a complete shambles and Marchisio got down the left undisturbed for a rising strike on to the crossbar!
Another concern for Zeman was that after 27 minutes all four Giallorossi defenders had already been booked. Totti tried to dribble through the entire Juve back line, but Giorgio Chiellini stood firm.
Vidal was found unmarked down the right, but ballooned over the bar. Roma replaced Federico Balzaretti with Marquinhos, as the former Palermo full-back was suffering from flu and running a temperature.
Matri again sprung the offside trap and rolled back for Vucinic to smack the crossbar from the D.
Roma created a chance after 38 minutes with Lamela’s ball across for Alessandro Florenzi intercepted by Leonardo Bonucci. The defender got into an argument with Florenzi, but then an even bigger row with teammate Vucinic, who was trying to calm him down. Osvaldo’s turn was charged down in the box.
In first half stoppages, Gigi Buffon comfortably smothered a Lamela header from six yards.
All of 27 seconds into the second half, Vucinic’s screamer forced Stekelenburg to palm it out of the top corner. Pirlo’s chipped pass freed Matri, but again Stek rushed out to flap away the lob.
Vucinic went on the counter and threaded through for Matri, but Stekelenburg smothered at his feet. A Nicolas Burdisso sliding tackle then proved crucial to stop Vucinic.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis drilled wide with a half-volley, as Roma were no longer as completely under the kosh as in the first half.
Zeman surprised by replacing Totti and Tachtsidis for Mattia Destro and Simone Perrotta. The ex-Siena striker had a good chance just over the bar on the volley.
Roma were awarded a penalty for Bonucci’s nudge on Destro as he was completing a give-and go with Osvaldo. The Italian-Argentine took spot-kick duties with Totti off the field and rolled it slowly into the net, sending Buffon the wrong way.
Marchisio’s daisy-cutter skimmed the back stick by a matter of inches, while Stekelenburg flew to beat away a Vucinic snapshot. Bonucci had the ball in the net from a corner, but was offside as he tapped in from a yard.
Osvaldo tested Buffon with an angled drive that squirmed between two defenders, then Lamela’s misplaced pass allowed Buffon to get away with a poor clearance. Osvaldo blasted over and substitute Paul Pogba curled just wide.
However, in stoppages Roma were caught out again on the counter from their own free kick, as Andrea Barzagli threaded through for Sebastian Giovinco to go round Stekelenburg and roll in from the tightest of angles.