Tactical Analysis: Roma vs Juventus

By Francesc Martí

29-September-2020 on Users

10 minute read

This was a match without a clear dominating force, in which blows were traded throughout the match with neither team being able to land the knockout punch. Both teams tried to apply high pressure and control the game at the back. Roma and Juventus have similar play styles but, despite this, we saw a clear distinction between them when it came to their starting formations. Roma started with a 5-4-1 and Juventus hit the pitch with a 4-4-2. So, how did this affect the game? Let’s take a closer look at the tactics of Paulo Fonseca and Andrea Pirlo using Nacsport and KlipDraw...


First Half


As the game begins, Roma play with three at the back, two in the area and one out in front, leaving some space between them and the wing backs. The central midfielders and Mkhitaryan fill the gaps and try to find space out wide. Juve, for their part, are incapable of counteracting this positioning and are continually stopped dead by their opponents.


By playing three centre-backs, Roma force Juve to push up and try to put pressure on the defence, which leaves holes in Juve’s front line and an easy escape route up the wings for Roma to exploit. When the ball comes back to the keeper, he is given an easy kick out to an unmarked player out wide in order for Roma to get the attack started.


When this happens, Juve’s defensive line tries to rearrange and shore itself up, usually at the wrong time, creating a continuous imbalance. In addition, Roma pin Juve down in the centre of the field, meaning they have plenty of space out wide to organise an attack.


Photo 1: 



This image shows how both forwards and two wing-men have been pulled into the centre, leaving the two central midfielders exposed. Meanwhile the ball is played out to the unmarked winger on the right.


After absorbing the pressure in defence, Roma quickly exploit this weakness and push up to their opponent’s penalty area, giving them ample opportunities to get on the scoreboard. Even in the plays where Roma can’t reach the goal area directly, they continue to find ways of putting pressure on Juve’s midfield, especially in the ¾ zone.


Photo 2: 



Roma generate midfield superiority with Mkhitaryan coming wide and playing tight with the centre-backs and midfielders. Juve’s midfielders are forced to push out to the wings whilst Rodriguez tracks back to collect. Juve’s central midfielder, Ramsey, drawn out of position, leaves a lane open for Roma to get the ball forward to him.


Juve try their best to control the ball from behind and channel the ball forward to their midfield. They, however, are unable to generate much danger from this position due to the strength of Roma, pushing up tight and leaving their opponents little space to work with.


Photo 3: 



Juve try to play the ball out from behind, trying to get the ball up to their midfielders in order to progress up the field. Rome, meanwhile, press up with their striker and 4 midfielders. The striker and one of the midfielders close down Juve’s winger; Roma’s centre midfielder marks his direct rival whilst the other midfielders are tasked with intercepting the ball. Meanwhile, the remainder of the defensive line pushes out wide. 


Roma’s best chances come with the fast counter-attack. Each time they intercept the ball in midfield, their first instinct is to push forward, with as many players as possible, into the opposition area. The penalty which leads to the first goal is won in such a fashion, after a failed Juve pass into midfield is intercepted by Roma in Juve’s own half. As Roma pressure into the area, there’s a handball, penalty and Veretout converts for 1-0.


After moving ahead, Roma set up shop in their own half, leaving very little space. Juve find it difficult to breach Roma in open play but do manage to generate some chances during set-pieces.


Photo 4: 



Roma always put pressure on the ball whilst keeping a solid central line at all times, preventing Juve from breaking through on the inside. In this image we can see Pellegrini pushing towards the ball while centre-back Mancini keeps the back line in formation, allowing no space through the middle.


Juve eventually manage to tie the game after a solo run from Ronaldo up the left forces a handball in the area. Ronaldo converts the resulting penalty but, just two minutes later, Roma go ahead once again. 


Roma’s goal is the result of a counterattack after a failed Juventus free kick. Roma break up the field, leaving them in a 3-vs-1 situation that easily leads to Veretout’s second of the match.


The whistle blows and Roma head into the break one goal ahead.


Second Half


At the start of the second half, the pressure is on Juventus as they desperately search for the equaliser as soon as possible. Roma, meanwhile, continue to keep everything tight at the back, soaking up the pressure from Juve. This results in Juve being more exposed at the back as they launch attack after attack in Roma’s half. Roma counterattack when the opportunity arises, giving them a few clear cut chances to notch up another goal and put the match to bed. 


Photo 5: 



Roma hit hard and fast on the counter as Juventus try in vain to track back to defend. In this image, we can see that Roma have already gotten ahead of six Juve players, leaving only the two central defenders to mop up.


Despite knowing that Rabiot is on thin ice with a yellow card and several fouls under his belt, Pirlo decides to change out McKennie instead. This comes back to bite him 5 minutes after the change when the French midfielder sees red and takes an early bath. His expulsion could have meant a tactical change for 10-man Juventus, but it’s actually the complete opposite as Juve continue to play the ball out of defence and press up the park, despite the handicap.


Arthur and Bentancur come on and give Juve fluidity during the buildup which allows them to reach a scoring position on a few occasions. One of these opportunities leads to a goal as Ronaldo hangs in the air as the ball is crossed into the box, allowing him to head home to bring the match to 2-2.


This, despite the best chances falling to Roma, which they can’t convert.


Photos 6 and 7: 




This image shows the build up to Juve’s second goal. We can see that at the beginning of the move, Ronaldo is in an off-side position which allows him to go unnoticed by the Roma defence. As Douglas Costa sprints past the left-back, Ronaldo is back in play and in front of his marker, allowing him a free header to score.


When the game is once again level, Roma start to apply more pressure and Juventus continue to risk playing the ball from the back, although it’s difficult for them to break through Roma’s lines with 10 men and high pressure. In the last 15 minutes of the match, the roles are completely reversed from earlier in the match as Roma take control whilst Juventus close up shop at the back, waiting for the opportunity to counterattack. However, no more opportunities are forthcoming for either team and the game ends at 2-2.


Key Points in the Match


• An even match in which Roma were tactically superior, both when pressuring the ball and attacking. Roma have obviously been working hard on their tactical game as their opponents were given very few chances.

• The technical quality of the Juventus forward line meant that, despite the errors made under pressure and being a man down, they were able to tie the game.





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