Roma have better players than Juventus? Totti trash talk is well wide of the mark

The Giallorossi skipper claimed this week that his side have the better individuals when compared to the champions, but the truth is that they still fall some way short
By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent

Francesco Totti has never been one to play down the quality of his Roma side, so it wasn't entirely suprising this week when he tried to blow his team's trumpet as they prepare to face champions Juventus in Sunday night's first v second showdown in Serie A.

But while his claims that Gervinho is a few goals short of Cristiano Ronaldo's level were quickly laughed off, talk of Roma being better than Juve in man-to-man terms has met with mixed reaction.

"Juventus are impressive. They have a strong team. They are very solid and always want to win," the 37-year-old told Il Messaggero.

"I think we are stronger individually, but they have the upper hand as a team. They have been playing together for three years.

"The difference between us is that their players are used to each other. They have been winning a lot and that has only helped them grow as a team."

But is that really true? Is the experience of winning all that separates the two squads? Goal decided to look at the respective outfits, matching similar players up against each other in order to truly test Totti's claims.


Gianluigi Buffon BUFFON Morgan De Sanctis
Stephan Lichtsteiner LICHTSTEINER Douglas Maicon
Andrea Barzagli BENATIA Mehdi Benatia
Leonardo Bonucci CASTAN Leandro Castan
Giorgio Chiellini CHIELLINI Federico Balzaretti
Angelo Ogbonna OGBONNA Vasilis Torosidis
Federico Peluso DODO Dodo

Gianluigi Buffon may make occasional errors which undermine his quality but he remains a fundamentally superior goalkeeper to Morgan De Sanctis. The Roma man still finds it tough having complete command of his defence, with his poor judgement of crosses helping to stress his negative side despite his excellent shot-stopping abilities.

Douglas Maicon could claim to be a better player than Stephan Lichtsteiner on his day, but the truth is that that day was a full four years ago. The Brazilian may have picked up again since signing for Roma, but he remains a long way short of the Swiss' consistent level. Roma do have the edge, though, in the centre of defence. While Juve have a great defensive record as a unit, Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan have been individually superior to Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci for much of the 2013-14 season so far.

Giorgio Chiellini remains one of the best in the business, while Angelo Ogbonna is arguably the finest reserve defender in Italy. Roma's Dodo, meanwhile, has shown great potential when called upon.


Claudio Marchisio FLORENZI Alessandro Florenzi
Arturo Vidal VIDAL Kevin Strootman
Andrea Pirlo DE ROSSI Daniele De Rossi
Paul Pogba POGBA Miralem Pjanic
Kwadwo Asamoah ASAMOAH Marquinho
Mauricio Isla BRADLEY Michael Bradley

In trying to match each player against a contemporary, the midfield battle is a very close-run contest. Alessandro Florenzi's magnificent potential and flexibility sees him past Claudio Marchisio, but the excellent Kevin Strootman is pipped by Arturo Vidal, who remains one of the best midfielders in world football.

Andrea Pirlo has undoubtedly been one of the great playmakers in the game over recent years, but Juventus' delay in offering him a new deal is reflective of the fact his mask has slipped a little over the last year or so. In comparison, Daniele De Rossi is experiencing something of a renaissance as the leader of the Roma midfield.

Though Miralem Pjanic has been a star turn for the Giallorossi, Paul Pogba has slotted in seamlessly as the champions' stand-out performer, forcing his way into the reckoning despite Juve previously having had an already overachieving midfield unit.

Kwadwo Asamoah has been a revelation since arriving in Turin despite playing away from his more comfortable central midfield role, but Mauricio Isla has struggled to turn in his best form since leaving Udinese. Michael Bradley's assured presence, meanwhile, makes him an excellent option in the Roma engine room.


Carlos Tevez TEVEZ Gervinho
Fernando Llorente TOTTI Francesco Totti
Mirko Vucinic VUCINIC Adem Ljajic
Fabio Quagliarella DESTRO Mattia Destro
Sebastian Giovinco GIOVINCO Marco Borriello

Carlos Tevez has been a revelation since first donning the Bianconeri shirt, evening outperforming the born-again Gervinho. Francesco Totti remains the key piece of Roma's jigsaw, making him preferable to Fernando Llorente as the Spaniard gradually comes to terms with his role in the Juve setup.

Adem Ljajic's exclusion is a tough call, but Mirko Vucinic was a huge part of the Old Lady's Scudetto successes of the past two seasons and the Serbian has yet to truly reproduce his Fiorentina form on a regular basis for the capital outfit.

Elsewhere, Fabio Quagliarella just about misses out to Mattia Destro thanks to the latter's excellent goalscoring return when called upon this term, while Sebastian Giovinco has largely been a bit-part player this season and was misused in 2012-13 but still played a key part in winning the title.


So even when taking Roma's great start to the season into account, Totti's claims that his men are individually better than the Bianconeri's seem to have little foundation. But a victory at Juventus Stadium on Sunday night would go some way to justifying the former Italy international's claims and would also further boost the reputation of those men he believes to be better than the champions.

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