Radja Nainggolan has never been afraid to speak his mind. The Roma midfielder, talking to a group of fans, has said that he “hates Juventus” and has guaranteed that the Giallorossi will end their trophy drought this season. The midfielder’s quotes follow, watch the video (in Italian) below.
Il Tempo (Alessandro Austini) There is belief, and there needs to be like never before. Roma are sat just 1 point behind Juventus, though this should be multiplied by 4 given that the Bianconeri should easily win their game in hand against Crotone on 8th February. Even so, that gap is hardly big enough for fans to stop dreaming. It has been a very open title race so far and will continue to be if Roma and Juventus continue to perform on the pitch, where they have been winning all their home games but dropping a few points on the road. The difference, leaving the match they played against each other to one side, is those wretched draws the Giallorossi got at Cagliari and Empoli – the 4 points they dropped in those games have given Allegri a sense of security. But Spalletti’s hopes remain intact: as well as the recent positive signs he can also look back at recent seasons with interest. If we limit ourselves to the last decade, Roma have never been so close to the top of the table after 21 games, from the 11 point gap in 2006/07 to Mancini’s Inter, when Spalletti himself was in charge and the league was getting used to the after-effects of Calciopoli, to the 12 point deficit to Napoli last season: the club’s lowest point came after their defeat in the Juventus Stadium on matchday 21 but was the prelude to the Giallorossi’s remarkable resurgence back up the Serie A table to make up 10 points on Sarri’s side, who in the meantime had been overtaken by Juventus.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (Fabio Bianchi) Things were set in stone. It shouldn’t have been possible for them to change. But now the old cliché of Italian teams setting themselves up primarily not to concede goals has finally been turned on its head. Scoring is, finally, at the forefront of our league’s top sides. It’s the most obvious thing of all to say that to win you have to score goals. To score goals, teams need lots of attackers – and good ones. 20 years ago, the system changed to 3 points for a win, and this helped enormously. But recent seasons have shown a surge of goalscorers, particularly this season. We’re just past the halfway mark of the season, and you can clearly see that this scudetto race will be a race like few others.
L’Ultimo Uomo (Fabio Barcellona) Juventus physically overwhelmed a Roma side struggling with the same old problems.
Il Corriere della Sera (Gianluca Piacentini) As the dust settles after the defeat in the Juventus Stadium, Roma are caught between whether to think with their hearts or their heads. 7 points off top and just 1 point above 3rd place, despite the fact the Giallorossi have beaten both Napoli, Milan and Lazio, the question that Romanisti are asking themselves is whether they should continue to hope for an almost impossible comeback or try to hold onto 2nd place and devote all their energy to winning a trophy, given the fact that the last one they lifted (the Coppa Italia) was back in 2008, when Spalletti was first in charge.
Il Corriere della Sera (Luca Valdiserri) 100 points in the calendar year from 38 games, the equivalent to an entire season. 25 consecutive league victories at the Juventus Stadium, the last time they failed to win was the 1-1 draw with Frosinone on 23rd September, 2015, and their last defeat was the 0-1 loss at home to Udinese a month before that. Winter champions with two games to spare, Roma trailing 7 points behind them, Milan 8 points back. All in all a perfect Saturday for them in order to plan ahead for the second half of the season and manage their squad when the Champions League returns. Meanwhile they inflicted yet another defeat on the Giallorossi, who have often been their only credible rivals for the title in the last few years – at least until it comes to the head to head match. Higuain won his duel with Dzeko, helped by the fact his team weren’t just trying to pick him out with a long, high ball, but also thanks to his dual ability to be lethal when he is close to goal and unselfish when he is playing as the second striker to Mandzukic, in that odd but effective attacking setup.
Il Tempo (Adriano Serafini) The pair of them tried to carry Roma on their own, spurring on their team-mates and stopping the team from collapsing during the most delicate points of the game. They raised the overall standard of the team, but it wasn’t enough to help them get anything from the match. Of Nainggolan and Szczesny, it was the Polish goalkeeper who was clearly the more bitter of the two during the post-match interviews.