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Pace, pressing and Cerci's effectiveness: how Torino halted Roma
The Granata are not the strongest in Serie A, but they did something more than Napoli, Inter and Udinese: they drew with the invincible Roma
by Alessandro Falcone
A sturdy and hard-bitten Torino ends Roma’s record streak of victories. The Giallorossi, excited by the record earned just three days earlier, now have to face what is probably their toughest challenge: stay on top once you’re back to normal.


And yet, things seem to go well for AS Roma. The team coahed by Rudi Garcia doesn't seem to be affected by the losses of the central defender Castan and of the two strikers Totti and Gervinho.


On the contrary, Garcia moved Miralem Pjanić to the attack, solving the lack of a “brain” in the heart of the opponent's team goal area, and strenghtening Roma's midflield with Michael Bradley.


“Ehi, yo, let’s go” and Roma occupied Torino’s field, with the typical pressing and gate-closing that surprised everyone in this unbelievable beginning of the season. On the other hand, coach Giampiero Ventura’s team replied with a strong defense, able to fill every slice of field, left the ball possession to Roma’s midfielders and prepared to counterattack with the runs of Alessio Cerci, an ex always spiteful with Roma.


The stats confirm it: Roma kept the ball-possession for 62,2% of the time and completed twice the passes of Torino (531 vs 254), but this did not prevent the Granata to create danger for Morgan De Sanctis: they hit 14 shots (five by Alessio Cerci), two more than Roma.


It was Roma to score first at half time in one of their classic moves: double pass at the end of the goal area, passing ball to a midfielder ready to go after (Pjanić today) and discharge to another midfielder ready to follow the ball: that was Kevin Strootman today, but that combination is a replay of the goal scored by Bradley at Udine just last Sunday.


Toro started the second half very determined, attacking doggedly like a bull. Roma was smashed and the only chance for the Giallorossi was to use fast counterattacks, but without the passing of Francesco Totti for the unstoppable Gervinho of this season, it was easy for Torino defenders to stop them and start new plays.


The equalizer arrived on a dirty pass in the penalty area. Benatia lost his face to face with Meggiorini (though it seemed to be a foul) who played on this fail and ran towards the goal, passing to Cerci: just a kiss to the ball and it was 1-1.

Rudi Garcia replaced Marco Borriello with Adem Ljiaić, hoping that the guy from Belgrad could pull one of his tricks out of the box. De Rossi shifted to the defense and Marquinho entered and started pressing from the midfiled.


So Roma started to press and played good football, occupying Torino’s field and leaving no space to Granata’s counterattacks. But Ventura’s team was ready, leaving no room for Roma and let just a way for the giallorossi to score with Maicon’s raids.


There was nothing to say for the rest of the match, with Torino snatching the first point from Roma and Garcia’s guys asking themselves: is the party over or is it starting right now?


After all Roma is still the Serie A leader, three points over Napoli and Juventus, which are having a champions record: last season, with the same points of today Juventus was first in the table, one point over the second. Daniele De Rossi and his mates will have a new chance on Sunday to go ahead with their job, considering that Juventus, after the dramatic match with Real Madrid in Champions League, will face Napoli and Roma will play with the more yielding Sassuolo. They just have to get used to normal life, made by a draw at Stadio Olimpico di Torino, which, in the end is fair and normal after a ten games winning streak.

Thanks to our reviewer Lorenzo Franceschi Bicchierai

Monday, November 4 th, 2013
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