Roma 5- 0 Bolonga
On 29th September 2012 AS Roma travelled to Turin to face Juventus in Juventus Stadium. The pre-match talks were dominated by the Bianconeri’s long and bitter history with then Roma coach Zdenek Zeman. With the stadium turning into a cauldron of noise Roma lost their way in the match in first few minutes and were training 3-0 within the first half hour. They would eventually lose 4-1 after a chaotic performance so typical in Zeman coached teams.
Fast forward to 29th September 2013 and AS Roma sit firmly perched on top of the Serie A table. They have been the most impressive team in Serie A till now and have, incredibly, won 6 out of their 6 matches – their best start to the league, ever. To make things sweeter for Roma fans this run saw the club pick up a dominant 2-0 win over rivals Lazio. The Lupi have made changes to management and squad in almost every season since a relatively successful period under Luciano Spaletti and for once, their changes seem to be bearing fruit.
An encouraging transfer campaign saw Roma enhance their squad though some fans were left to complain after the club sold off Eric Lamela late in the window. Roma’s real star man till now, however, has been the coach Rudi Garcia. The 49 year old had never coached in Serie A before, despite winning double with Lille in France. A sharply contrasting figure to Roma’s coach at the same time last year, Garcia was expected to struggle in a new league. Instead, he has taken full advantage of a favourable fixture list and turned Roma into a superbly organized team – quite an irony given the way their past few seasons have went. The Giallorossi have often been maligned for their poor defensive record but till now only Jonathan Biabiany has managed to find the net against AS Roma in 540 minutes of football. It’s almost surreal. To put things into perspective, Roma had conceded 11 goals at this point last season, 6 in 2011/12 season and further 11 in 2010/11 season. Rudi Garcia’s half time pep talk must also be noted as his side has often played as a totally different team in second half, notching up wins in the second period.
On Sunday Roma welcomed Bologna at the Stadio Olimpico with Juventus and Napoli leapfrogging them to the top spot. Bologna, yet to win this season, was not expected to provide any major headaches to the home team. Roma too, stayed true to the script as Alessandro Florenzi and Gervinho struck twice within first 20 minutes to put Roma 2-0 up. A fantastic volley from Mehdi Benatia five minutes before the half hour mark made it 3-0 as the match was as good as done. This was unarguably the best first half performance from Roma this season. Gervinho doubled his tally in second half with birthday boy Adem Ljajic rounding up the scoreline on 85th minute. Their stupendous run of form will give confidence to Roma as they have a set of difficult fixtures awaiting them in coming weeks. Rudi Garcia’s men have passed the starting test and are firmly placed to challenge for a Champions League spot. Next few rounds will confirm if they can challenge for the title, or not.
Juventus clinch the Turin derby
The big derby of Round-6 saw Juventus make the short trip across town to face Torino in 186th Derby della Mole. The Turin derby has lost sheen in past couple of decades due to Juventus’ one way dominance in the fixture. Torino hasn’t won this fixture since 1995 and worse, hasn’t breached Juventus defence since a 2-2 draw in February 2002.
Given the gulf in quality of two squads the home team had a clear objective of disrupting Juve’s flow in this match. A series of cluttering tackles followed as the match took an ugly turn. Former Juventus Primavera top-scorer Ciro Immobile’s tackle from behind on Carlos Tevez was particularly vicious and could have injured the Argentine seriously.
Juventus struggled with Torino’s no holds barred approach and it was clear that they either needed luck or a brilliant piece of individual skill to find the net. As it turned out the former factor came into play nine minutes into second half when the assistant referee failed to spot Tevez’s offside position when he assisted Paul Pogba’s match winner.
Torino barely attacked all game and never really looked like breaking their hoodoo against Juventus. To make things worse, the club made a PR error by publishing a tactless official statement as a retort to Antonio Conte’s post-match comments. This was the second consecutive match when the defending champions were given a lucky break due to refereeing error and Juventus would need to improve their level of performance with crunch games against Real Madrid, AC Milan and Fiorentina looming in October.
AC Milan beat Sampdoria
AC Milan picked up a facile 1-0 win over Sampdoria at home in an uninspiring encounter. A flurry of injuries, along with Balotelli’s suspension has depleted Milan’s squad and the Rossoneri will be happy with the three points. Their cross-town rivals though, failed to secure a third consecutive victory by slumping to a 1-1 draw at Cagliari. Inter’s draw also saw them drop to though they are still one of the four unbeaten teams in the peninsula. Sampdoria’s form is showing early signs of disaster, just like last season, and they have lost four out of six matches and are a place above bottom placed Sassuolo.
After their shock draw in Naples in mid-week, Sassulo picked up their first home points against Lazio on weekend, after some drama. They were looking down and out in second half when Lazio had scored two quick goals to race to a 0-2 lead. However, Ezequiel Schelotto and Antonio Floro Flores ensured that Sassuolo completed a remarkable come-back.
Napoli bounced back from their mid-week disappointment to record a solid 2-0 away win against Genoa thanks to a brace from Goran Pandev. Rafa Benitez’s side is in good form and has done justice to the tag of title challengers till now. In mid-week, they face another in-form team in Arsenal at the Emirates in what should be a mouthwatering encounter.