If there was a moment when the title race well and truly slipped beyond Roma’s grasp, it likely came in the 62nd minute of Monday’s Serie A clash with Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Defender Vasileios Torosidis came in for a reckless tackle on Juve’s Arturo Vidal. Already on a yellow, the Greek defender was shown a red card and ejected from the match.
Carlos Tevez stepped up to take the ensuing free kick, bending in a right-footed effort from outside the box that floated into the bottom left corner, leaving Roma keeper Morgan De Sanctis no chance. And just like that Roma found themselves a goal and a man down with 30 minutes left to play, and any remaining title aspirations hanging in the balance.
However, Roma did manage to pull one back through Seydou Keita. The ex-Barca man connected with a lofted ball from Alessandro Florenzi and headed home the equalizer in the 78th minute. Smelling blood in the water, Rudi Garcia’s Roma stepped it up in the final 15 minutes of play. But it proved too little, too late for the Giallorossi. Despite a spirited last-ditch effort, the match finished 1-1. With 13 rounds left to play and their nine-point lead atop the table intact, it’s hard to imagine anyone preventing Juventus from winning their fourth consecutive Serie A title.
In the end, it may prove to have been too many draws and too many indifferent performances from Rudi Garcia’s men that cost them a shot at the title, if indeed they had one to begin with. While Roma undoubtedly boasts one of the best squads in Italy, the quality gap between Juventus and the rest of the chasing pack looks insurmountable for the time being.
Like last season, Roma are looking a solid bet for second place. Although dropping any more points could allow Napoli or Lazio to slip in. But while Serie A teams may currently be dominating the Europa League, it’s telling that the only Italian team remaining in the Champions League is Juventus. The reigning champions simply have too much quality for the rest of the league to handle right now. And while there are plans for the likes of Roma and AC Milan to build their own stadiums, until they do, and begin reaping the financial rewards of owning their own home grounds, Juventus look likely to maintain their lock on the Serie A title.
With all their remaining fixtures against top five teams at home, it’s difficult to see Juventus dropping any points for the remainder of the season, let alone nine. If Roma, or anyone else has the slightest chance of catching Juve, their greatest hope is that the rigors of Champions League football prove taxing on Massimiliano Allegri’s squad. But with the Juventini boasting enough depth to rest the likes of Paul Pogba against Roma, those are slim hopes at best.