Twenty — 20! — years and a day after that Alessandro Del Piero match-winning goal against Fiorentina, Juventus travelled to Florence for another encounter with the Viola team. And how they needed another fantastic moment like that one in today's game to seal the win ... it wasn't to be, though, as Bianconeri had to settle for a point after a rather bleak display.
At the end of the game, however, Max Allegri didn't seem overly disappointed with the result, his features presenting a relatively sincere smile as he made his way to the dressing rooms. A point is a point and it is better than nothing. Based on how Juventus approached the game, Allegri surely thought of this before the kick-off and you can't blame him for doing so. The team will inevitably drop points again in Serie A, but as long as Allegri knows his priorities - today seemed to be Atletico Madrid — things could come in place nicely for Juventus.
Giving the circumstances — Stephan Lichtsteiner suspended; Andrea Barzagli, Luca Marrone, Martin Caceres, Kwadwo Asamoah, Romulo, all out injured; and Atletico Madrid visiting Turin in four days — a point could be enough to keep the team going at the moment, considering there is still a 4-point gap ahead of Roma. Switching to 3-5-2 made it easier to defend at Stadio Artemio Franchi, but a whole lot more harder to produce anything when attacking. Slow, predictable, clueless. Kingsley Coman and, in the first half, Paul Pogba were the only players who produced some sparks, but it wasn't enough for a breakthrough.
Reassuring was the fantastic display of Leonardo Bonucci who bossed the defence with confidence. Angelo Ogbonna also made his comeback and looked in good form. With Carlos Tevez only playing 30 minutes and Alvaro Morata rested for the whole game, it looks easy to say who is starting upfront against Atletico Madrid in the fast-approaching decisive game, and this is another reason to feel better. The two of them have been the best strikers in the squad this season and having both working their magic on Tuesday night might just to the job.
Plenty of intensity in the first half made up for the lack of goals. Tackles were flying in from both sides forcing Nicola Rizzoli to blow his whistle more often than he would have liked to. Juventus pressed high early on and created the first chance after two minutes when Pogba cut inside from the left, getting past Stefan Savic, and unleashed a shot over the bar.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Fiorentina had a dangerous counter attack after defending a corner-kick but Ogbonna and Chiellini managed to stop Juan Cuadrado before he could get close to Buffon's goal. The Colombian created some problems for Juventus' backline with his quick movement and technique but couldn't really threaten Buffon's goal, as his shots from distance were blocked on a couple of occasions.
Joaquin gave Evra a hard time throughout the first half, as the Frenchman looked to be Achilles' heel in the Bianconeri defence, and won a free kick close to the penalty area 20 minutes in. Following Fernandez's delivery, the ball hit Chiellini's hand but there was no intention from the defender and Rizzoli waved play on despite protests from Viola players.
The last 10 minutes of the half were even more physical with lots of 50-50 duels and some crunching tackles, with Cuadrado, Ogbonna and Chiellini all seeing yellow cards.
Five minutes before the half time, Borja Valero wasted a chance for Fiorentina when his shot from just inside the box flied over the goal. Shortly afterwards, Pirlo delivered a ball from a corner kick for Vidal but his first time volley from 20 yards didn't find the target.
Juventus started the second half stronger and had a chance through Evra on 48 mintues, but his shot from angle was punched away by Neto. A few minutes later, Pogba broke free on a counter attack but instead of picking up a teammate, he tried to dribble his way in the penalty box, only to be dispossessed by Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Two minutes later, Buffon was quick off his line to clear a ball chased by Mario Gomez who managed to get away from the marking. Shortly afterwards, Bouncci made a great last-man tackle to deny Gomez a goalscoring opportunity.
With a bit more than 20 minutes left to play, Pogba foolishly lost a ball in his own half and Fiorentina almost made the most of it, but Bonucci was again at his post and blocked the same German attacker with a fantastic last-gasp challenge.
A minute later, Cuadrado tested Buffon with a powerful strike from distance but the veteran goalkeeper dived to his right to put the ball behind for a corner kick. It was the last notable action of a rather dull second half. Tevez replacing Coman couldn't revitalise Juventus' attacking actions and the final 10 mintues of the game were played at slow tempo.
The Old Lady had a late penalty appeal when a ball played by Pogba hit David Pizarro's hand inside Fiorentina's box, but Rizzoli decided against pointing to the spot and blew the final whistle.
Buffon 6.5 - A couple of good saves from Buffon who was also very quick off the line to deny Gomez. Typical solid display.
Ogbonna 6.5 - Finally came back from injury and had a solid performance. Very good in the air, while showing no signs of lack of fitness.
Bonucci 7.5 - Imperial at the back. Best player on the pitch after a world class performance, making a couple of last-man tackles, keeping Gomez silent for the entire game.
Chiellini 6 - Had plenty of work to do blocking Cuadrado and Gomez. Not a bad display, but was outpaced a few times. Suspneded for the next game as he got a yellow
Pereyra 5.5 - Quiet display from the right winger who looked clueless in the right wing position. Brought close to nothing in the game
Vidal 6 - Combative as usual in midfield but uninspired when it came to attacking. Like other players, his mind seemed to be away from the game
Pirlo 6 - Was very slow and looked tired, making several mistakes in the first half. Excepting a few good long balls, had nothing to say in the game.
Pogba 6.5 - Very active in the first half but poor in the second. Could have done better in a couple of chances near the opposite box.
Evra 5.5 - Another shaky defensive display as he couldn't keep up with the pace of Juaquin and Cuadrado. Had a decent chance early in the second half
Coman 6.5 - Very energic in the first half, showing some good skills and pace, but unfortunately, was pretty ineffective overall.
Llorente 5.5 - Had more space than usual as Fiorentina had the initiative often in the game, but despite some good link-up with his teammate, the Spaniard neither created or had any chance to score
Tevez 6 - Replaced Coman on the hour mark but couldn't spark the attack, barely creating anything.
Marchisio 6 - Came in for Pirlo with 10 minutes to go, making no impact
Padoin - N/A Replaced Pereyra late in the game
Allegri - 6.5 Decided to switch back to 3-5-2 because of the unavailable players at the back and it worked for him, as a point looked to be his aim for the game. But at the same time, being unable to create anything should give him something to think about if he ever needs to play this system again.
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- It's time for Álvaro Morata to get his chance in Juventus' starting lineup — consistently