It's the 68th minute and Fernando Llorente, who is known to win a free kick or two over the course of a game, gets one just outside the penalty area after being brought down by Gonzalo Rodriguez. While referee Howard Webb was in the process of showing Rodriguez a red card for the foul, noted free kick specialist Andrea Pirlo was prepping for what everybody in black and white was thinking could be his latest and greatest attempt on goal from a dead ball situation.
What followed was, well, Pirlo being Pirlo.
Another game, another Pirlo free kick masterpiece being the difference between a Juventus win and a potential disappointing result. This time, though, Juventus didn't get three points. Nope. What they got on Thursday night was a 1-0 win, a 2-1 advantage on aggregate, and a ticket booked for the Europa League quarterfinals.
.@Pirlo_official: We knew we had to score. We prepared the game well and were convinced from start to finish that we could go through. #UEL— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 20, 2014
Not bad for a guy who's a couple months away from being 35 years old, huh?
Don't feel bad if you're just left staring at the gif. You won't be the only one who is admiring the brilliance that is Andrea Pirlo taking a free kick. I'm pretty sure that contract renewal is awaiting you, Andrea, whenever you'd like to put your signature on the dotted line.
#Pogba: We’re very happy. We still remember the 4-2 defeat here and it was important for us to overturn that result. #FiorentinaJuve #UEL— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 20, 2014
Getting a little bit of revenge is pretty sweet. Same goes for turning the May 14 Europa League final into a home game. Just a couple more legs to go, fellas.
Random thoughts and observations
- Pirlo's goal doesn't happen if Llorente doesn't work his tail off and get the free kick in Zona Pirlo. It was a pretty quiet game for Llorente in terms of the overall picture, but his biggest contribution won't show up on the stat sheet and ended up being the second-biggest difference-maker in the game.
- There was Carlos Tevez, and there was a (post-game) party.
- Seriously, though, having Tevez back in the starting lineup makes so much of a difference. The whole "Tevez doesn't score in Europe!" argument has gotten a bit tiresome for a lot of people, and I can see why. There wasn't a goal for Carlitos, but the impact he had was truly tremendous. He was involved in almost every serious Juventus attack, peppered Neto with every shot he took, and just brought that extra something that his team was lacking over the weekend against Genoa.
- He may not be on the Juventus roster this season, but Luca Marrone was watching.
Che giocatore @Pirlo_official !!!!!!!!— Luca Marrone (@marrone39) March 20, 2014
- Time to give Mauricio Isla some love because for the first time in his Juventus career, he's contributing on a consistent basis. What do Juve lack a decent portion of the time? Dangerous crosses into players like Llorente. Well, Isla was putting crosses for his teammates on a platter today.
- Is it just me or did anybody else's blood pressure go up a few ticks whenever Mario Gomez had the ball at his feet in or around the Juve penalty area? Whenever they're fit at the same time this season or next, that Gomez-Giuseppe Rossi strike partnership is going to be pretty lethal.
- Go ahead and find a replay of Pirlo's goal that involves a shot of Gigi Buffon before and after the goal happens. He wasn't even watching. It's like he knew what was going to happen, saw it, wasn't surprised, and then went about his business as usual. Maybe they know a thing or two about each other, I dunno.
- Martin Caceres with another solid, solid game filling in for the injured Andrea Barzagli. And luckily for Mr. Caceres, there was no need to sport a fancy wrap on his head during the second half.
- Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba combined for 14 tackles Thursday night. I'd say that's pretty good.
- Europa League quarterfinal draw tomorrow. Set your alarm clocks now, fellow Americans!
- Europa League Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Fiorentina, Leg 2
- Juventus vs. Fiorentina: You choose Antonio Conte's starting lineup
- Andrea Barzagli, Angelo Ogbonna miss out on Juventus' second leg vs. Fiorentina
- Europa League Preview: Juventus vs. Fiorentina, Leg 2 — Returning to the scene of the crime
- Poetry in motion: This season's edition of Andrea Pirlo free kicks to date