BLOG ITALIA
Monday January 27 2014
Lazio give Roma a Reja hope

Roma and Lazio did their best to keep the title debate open in Italy at the weekend. Giancarlo Rinaldi assesses the importance of their Week 21 performances.

All roads led to Rome in the Italian title fight at the weekend or, at least, to the capital's two clubs. Lazio did their bitter rivals Roma a much-grudged favour by holding Juventus to a draw on Saturday night. The Giallorossi then fulfilled their end of the bargain by emerging victorious at Verona's Stadio Bentegodi - one of the toughest grounds to take anything from this season.

This being Italy, of course, none of it could happen without a dash of controversy.

The game at the Stadio Olimpico demonstrated that the best way to make a real contest of the Scudetto fight might be to make Juve play the rest of the season with 10 men. Having lost Gigi Buffon and seen Antonio Candreva convert the resultant penalty, it actually made a match of it. La Vecchia Signora really had to dig deep into her handbag of resilience to salvage a point. It took a Fernando Llorente header of sublime accuracy to level the match before the woodwork and Marco Storari’s reflexes denied Edy Reja’s side a winner. It stopped the Bianconeri’s winning run at 12 games, but Antonio Conte was understandably bullish about their performance afterwards.

“In adversity you saw what great men are in this side,” he said. “We showed why we are top of the table. We never gave up and kept trying to win despite being a man down against an on-form Lazio side. But the penalty and red card is too harsh a rule - it should be changed.”

The bad news, for Conte aficionados, is that he also confirmed he will do no more pre-match Press conferences this season as he feels his words have been misrepresented in the past. He may have a point, of course, but ultimately it is his own supporters who pay the price of missing out on his pearls of wisdom. Others, perhaps, may welcome a 50 per cent reduction in his pronouncements.

After that game, it was over to Roma, who managed to slice Juve's lead to six points with a 3-1 win over Verona with goals from Adem Ljajic, Gervinho and Francesco Totti - although Emil Hallfredsson briefly levelled for the home side. The Giallorosso skipper, who hauled his weary old bones off the substitutes’ bench, saw it as a signal that his team is up for the fight.

“We've shown we are a match for Juve,” said Totti. “After they put a foot wrong, we proved we can fight on level terms with the champions of Italy for the Scudetto. We have closed the gap on Juve. This week we have seen they are not unbeatable, even though they are very strong.”

Less impressed was Napoli netminder Pepe Reina who apparently took to Twitter to criticise the soft penalty which put the Giallorossi’s victory beyond doubt. It might have been a generous decision but he would probably do better to worry about his own team’s downturn in form. A 1-1 draw with Chievo Verona on Saturday evening confirmed a drop-off in the quality of the Partenopei’s play and a difficulty in breaking down more lowly opposition.

They got a break, however, in events at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday night. A contentious penalty for Genoa, converted by Viola old boy Alberto Gilardino, opened the scoring in a crazy 3-3 draw which will have frustrated Alberto Aquilani. He scored his first Serie A hat-trick - and had another chalked off for a debatable offside - and it still was not enough to get Fiorentina the win they craved to move closer to third spot. The game also saw ex-Manchester United man Anderson make his debut for the Tuscan outfit. He slotted in well enough to suggest he might rediscover some sort of form in Florence - and, in the process, silence those who claim the move is more about pizza than putting his career back on track.

It looked like Milan might succumb to their familiar failings in Sardinia but late goals from Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini gave the Clarence Seedorf era more substance. A dreadful attempted clearance by Marco Amelia had helped Marco Sau give Cagliari the lead. The new Rossoneri boss recognised the psychological importance of getting another three points on the board. Suddenly, they are just five behind city rivals Inter who could do no better than a goalless draw with Catania.

Walter Mazzarri looked more than a little flustered after that display, coming at the end of a week which brought humiliation on the transfer market with the Mirko Vucinic-Fredy Guarin swap fiasco. He highlighted the tense atmosphere at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza as a contributory factor in the share of the spoils with the Sicilians. One section of the Nerazzurri support displayed a banner advising Erick Thohir never to do any deals with Milan or Juventus and also to get rid of the old backroom staff and bring in his own trusted men. Most of us, however, would have reservations about whether running your club at the whim of your most vociferous fans is a winning formula for the future.

Inter’s problems - without a win since the Milan derby last year - have allowed Parma and Torino to put them under severe pressure for the Europa League spot that fifth place offers. An Amauri goal got a win at the weekend for Roberto Donadoni’s men against an ever-more-struggling Udinese side. In Turin, Alessio Cerci converted a penalty he won to see the Granata past a battling Atalanta.

In the lower reaches, Sampdoria and Bologna shared the points in a draw which did neither side any great favours. The only significant winners in the relegation zone were Livorno who got off to a lightning start to secure their 3-1 victory over Sassuolo. Still, eight teams remain within as many points at the bottom of the table so there is likely to be at least one six-point clash every week between now and the end of the season.

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.

Have your say...
@Dodó Hilton

"Just stick around until after the game at stadio olimpico, please. I´m sure u don´t really have the guts judging from your character, but surprise me"

Roma ZERO - 1 Juve

Osvaldo (ex roma)

PERFECT !!!!

HAHHAHAAHHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA KEEP HIDING IM JUST GONNA ENJOY THIS MOMENT!
on the 11th May, 2014 at 11:44pm
@Dodó Hilton

WHERE ARE YOU??? DODO HILTON ??? I've promised before I will stick around.

CATANIA 4 - 1 ROMA

HEAD SHOT !!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
on the 5th May, 2014 at 12:17am
@Dodó Hilton

Bye Bye Coppa HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA NAPOLI 3 - ZERO ROMA LOL LOL LOL

Warcraft hahahahahha are you talking about yourself? LOL LOL LOL


* till now I still don't know why my previous post didn't get accepted
on the 13th February, 2014 at 9:30pm
@ Forza Juve

"WTF", "LOL"? Dude you should just continue to play world of warcraft rather than to try to come up with various insults. In the end, Juve, and obviously a lot of its supporters, is a really unsympathetic team. They´re good, no doubt about it, but u know you´re uncertainty shines through just a little too much to take u seriously. Just stick around until after the game at stadio olimpico, please. I´m sure u don´t really have the guts judging from your character, but surprise me.
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 9:20pm
@Dodó

LOL 11 years old hahahaha, Hows your sister paris? lol

all you can come up is calciopoli while the real criminal is inter. speaking of calciopoli and when juve in serie b, did roma win any scudetto? the answer is ZERO hahahahahahhahaha

by may we already have the title lol, DOUCHE! hahahahahahahha

@Conrad

ball possession means nothing if the score is 3-0 !!
on the 2nd February, 2014 at 12:31am
Just look at the ball possession on both games. Roma were not inferior to Juve and we're proud to see that fact.
on the 31st January, 2014 at 7:00pm
@ Forza Juve

Mad? I´m not mad at all. "WTF"? What are u, 11 years old?

And I´m sure all Romanisti are proud to be Romanisti because we always stick with the team and can be proud of the fact that we´ve never been relegated to Serie B because of cheating. We can hold our heads high even though we´re not always the better team so try to come up with something else,douche.

Also,please just stick around here and let me hear your sorry attempt to explain why u lost again at Stadio Olimpico in may
on the 31st January, 2014 at 11:55am
@Dodó

Why so mad? BRAVO is your copyright? WTF are you Paris Hilton? hahahahahahahahah

If so good why 3-0? why juve have 6 bench players on coppa you can only win 1-0? and peluso goal was valid.

Lost because 9 players, hahahahaha roma must be proud to have fans like you hahahahahahaha, garcia even said before the red card juve were leading 2-0. hahahahahah

that's a good laugh Dodó Hilton hahahahahahhaa
on the 30th January, 2014 at 9:26pm
@ Forza Juve

"Bravo" ?? Please try to come up with something on your own when you´re trying to reply.

If u saw the game u know that the difference was non existent when we were on equal terms but yeah, you´re a good team. We played as good as you but u won that round. It will be different in Rome later on this spring though so pleas do stick around because I´d like to hear your sorry excuses then..
on the 30th January, 2014 at 1:35pm
@Dodó

Bravo you idiot! Roma were 11 players when Juve lead 2-0. !!!

HAAHAHHAHA STUPID!
on the 29th January, 2014 at 11:06pm
@Forza Juve

Bravo!! u won against us when we had 9 (!!!) players..


I´m sure u must be proud.
on the 29th January, 2014 at 6:14pm
not good. i messed up my comment so now it definately looks like giberish!
on the 29th January, 2014 at 5:02pm
Eventually as those clubs focus and reach latter stages of Europa thus gaining more coefficient points then the 4th place would be back for them to compete for. Seriously for teams to do well in Europe you need to be in it year in year out and can't have sampdoria and udinese suddenly pushing their way to qualification who end up not keeping their best players. The fact these teams get into Europe etc shows serie a is weak as they would never get involved if it was strong.

Forza establishment!
on the 29th January, 2014 at 2:59pm
Honestly,

Serie coefficient is not gonna get closer to
on the 29th January, 2014 at 2:50pm
Good banter re Juve. I personally think the reason for their current success is because they're the best run club in Italy. Roma and Fiorentina seem to be putting their houses in order and Napoli seem to have spent the Cavani money wisely. Verona have done really well so far this season and could become another Udinese/Atlanta academy type club. The Milan teams are a farce. I hear some sheik is looking to buy Cagliari??? Surely Milan would be better. Come on. We're for sale. Come and get us!
on the 29th January, 2014 at 10:45am
@ Dennis I agree with you 100% about Milan. The Essien signing is a joke. Taarabt is an embarrassment. Galliani has been playing musical chairs again this transfer window and Milan are no better than when it started but have changed about 10 players, wasted more money and killed a few more young players careers . I just want this window to end so that Galliani can stop doing any more damage. He needs to go asap.
on the 29th January, 2014 at 10:40am
@Romanista

Thats is why 50%, isla, peluso, storari, gio, quag, marchisio (bench, his place taken over by pogba) use your brain.

Any comment on Juve 3-0 Roma? juve full squad. oh yeah peluso goal was ok.
on the 29th January, 2014 at 2:53am
@Marco Rocco

You mean penalty on handsball against roma player vs juve? 100% penalty, decided the game? not a chance, roma were finished!!!
on the 29th January, 2014 at 2:43am
@Dodó...im sure the team Juve put out tried hard for the win, but was it full strength? Of course not. A blind man can see that. Roma earned the win, they wanted to win the Coppa at all costs which is fine with me. But its very well known what is most important to Juve, achieving the 3rd title. Thats what counts the most and Roma will feel it in the return league fixture. We give you a taste of what drives us in Turin, your narrow 1nil was scrapping the barrel. End of the day, know your place
on the 28th January, 2014 at 11:41pm
@ Marco Rocco I´m with u all the way man. @The Old Lady Alright dude but you can never hide your recent past. A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. It´s as simple as that. Roma also have their history in the 1900's but at least they never cheated. Very unsympathetic. @Della don´t pretend that Juve didn´t wanna win as much as Roma did, u just underestimated us. Like I wrote earlier, u had tevez and Llorente for some 15 minutes (Llorente came in 77th) and still couldnt do anything..
on the 28th January, 2014 at 11:15pm
I remember after 2006, juve were down and out and were no longer seen as a threat but in such a short time has been rebuilt better than ever on the pitch and off it. The team is improving every year and it's inevitable that the team will figure out what it takes to go far in Europe. No doubt. But this funny talk about juve by rival fans just emphasises one thing:

Juve is back where she belongs on top of Italian football and everyone can keep spewing out the nonsense cos it may be a while.
on the 28th January, 2014 at 10:13pm
Even with 10 men Juve played with heart and gusto not to mention skill. I thought Lazio sat back and showed too much respect even against 10 men. They did create chances but seemed reluctant to throw men forward. Roma are a good side to watch but I do not understand why Pjanic is on the bench as he would be first on my list. They also need to get more men in the box as there is no need for Maicon to cross and its only Florenzi in there. DDR needs to be encouraged to go forward more
on the 28th January, 2014 at 10:03pm
I am still speechless that Milan have got or are in the process of getting Michael Essien but they are even outdoing themselves in the embarrassing stakes by even considering Taarabt. Is there no limit to their shame or is Serie A so down the list that is not fodder feeding? I still have a soft spot for the league and watch it from time to time but some of the players they go after nauseate. Essien is way past it and perhaps older than his claims but Taarabt takes the biscuit. Bravo Juve n Roma
on the 28th January, 2014 at 9:59pm
@ Della

I'm not "mad" "homie". I'm simply saying I admire teams with charecter and integrity. Not those who cheat. It's that simple homie. I could never cheer for Juve, even when they play Lazio.
on the 28th January, 2014 at 7:56pm
@Marco Rocco...those 'cheaters' lost 7 world class players, lost millions, where deducted points and relegated and they still managed to clean up serie b and reclaim there dominance in Serie A. Haters gonna hate...dont be mad homie
on the 28th January, 2014 at 5:58pm
The only way to end this, who is better Roma or Juve debate is when they meet each other at the reverse fixture. When Juve and Roma play first teams, and when Juve wins by 3 again.
on the 28th January, 2014 at 5:43pm
@Romanista.... Llorente, Tevez, Pogba, Buffon, Asamoah, Lich...didnt play. Lets see, the forward line was second team, wingers second team, goalkeeper second team and super Pogba rested. Juve kept a good midfield and a strong back 3. Considering 6..yes 6 players where missing from the lineup Roma just about beat Juve a super impressive 1 nil. Bravo. hahaha...
on the 28th January, 2014 at 5:41pm
@ Vinni London. No man, I won't "admire" Juve's accomplishments. They cheated...they were caught and sent down to Serie B? Do you recall this? I cannot admire a team that has cheated there way to anything, sorry.
on the 28th January, 2014 at 4:00pm
Controversial penalty against Verona? Bad call? Sure. Decided the game? Not a chance, unlike every Juve penalty this season...
on the 28th January, 2014 at 3:58pm
@ Mr Lazio


Yes, it sucked loosing last years coppa to u but I rather have it this way with us having more than 20 points than Lazio right now and playing in a fantastic way while building a team for the future rather than looking at your poor results..


DATECE LA LAZIO!

Forza Roma Per Sempre
on the 28th January, 2014 at 2:34pm

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