Juventus and Roma are going into the Serie A weekend with all kind of questions – some concerning an Old Lady’s defence and another over Roma’s under fire boss
What a night for Italian football: the only two Italian clubs left in the Champions League thrashed and kicked out of the Coppa Italia by two smaller clubs. Juventus were dominated by Atalanta, losing 3-0, and Roma demolished by Fiorentina, with a final 7-1 result that puts Eusebio Di Francesco’s job at risk. A failure for both giants.
“Our aim this season is to win the Champions League, the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia. Our aim this season has to be to win everything,” said Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, speaking to the squad back in August. It’s just January, and this won’t be possible. With all the money that was invested in the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, this has to be considered a failure.
Juve managed the domestic double for four consecutive seasons, but the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo changed this, and not in the way the Old Lady wanted. Of course, the Bianconeri might still be able to win the main objective of the year having signed CR7 – the Champions League – but are out of the Coppa Italia for the first time since 2014, and will therefore definitely not be able to retain the double with the Serie A.
This also means that Juve won’t be able to complete the Treble, something the fans want more than anything, considering the most bitter rivals managed it in 2010, when Jose Mourinho lead Inter to winning everything. If Juve are to win the league and the Champions League, losing out on the legendary Treble for the domestic cup would look a bit funny.
Aside from these considerations, Juve have more pressing issues: Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, the starting centre backs, are both injured, and Atalanta exposed the difficulties the Bianconeri can have in defending. This used to be the main strength of the team, but this season they showed some weaknesses. The Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid will be absolutely vital. If Juve go on, this slip up in the Coppa Italia will be brushed away.
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They same cannot be said about Roma. Losing 7-1 is a much bigger deal, especially if this exact same result brings back the worst memories for fans and ownership of the club. Roma lost by the exact same result against Manchester United back in 2007 and Bayern Munich more recently. Both times in the Champions League, and both are scars that won’t go away. Of course, this time it’s even worse, as Fiorentina cannot be compared to the European giants.
Di Francesco is therefore at risk of losing his job. Paulo Sousa has been contacted by the directors, whilst the current coach refuses to resign. The game against AC Milan at the weekend, pivotal in the race for a top four finish, is where it will all be decided. If Di Francesco can manage to win it, then he can continue to guide Roma for the time being. If not, his spell in the capital could be nearing the end.
It should have been a relatively straight forward night of Coppa Italia for Juventus and Roma, it turned into an evening that raised questions and could leave bruises for the upcoming weeks.