Juventus had to overcome a horrendous opening spell to claw back a one-goal deficit against Fiorentina, but then failed to find the winner despite creating enough chances to take all three points. The race for a Champions League spot looks like it will go down to the wire now with Atalanta vaulting into second place, and AC Milan and Napoli yet to play.
Speaking after the game, coach Andrea Pirlo was disappointed with how his side started the game.
“It was a horrible first half. We should’ve started in a different way, because this was a fundamental fixture in the race for the Champions League places, but we were too slow, our distances were all wrong and we were always second to the ball.
Pirlo’s attempt at going with the 3-5-2 formation to match up with the Viola was an unmitigated failure, with his side looking uncomfortable and out of place.
“After Danilo’s injury yesterday, we changed to three at the back, with Aaron Ramsey and Dybala between the lines. It didn’t work, so we introduced Morata after the break to give us a change of pace.
“Our first half was bad, the second a little better, but it still wasn’t good enough. We tried one thing and ended up doing something completely different, but we adjusted to the way we have done throughout the season and it went better.”
Paulo Dybala went off at the break after an unremarkable showing with substitute Alvaro Morata scoring almost immediately. However, Cristiano Ronaldo missed a sitter in the closing stages of the game and that must have had Pirlo feeling he should have taken off the Portuguese superstar instead?
“I don’t think Ronaldo did badly. He had a few chances and overall was not bad. It was the team that should’ve attacked the space more and we did see some of that in the second half, as Fiorentina had a high line.
“Dybala and Morata are two very different forwards. Morata runs into space, whereas Dybala ties the game together more.
Aaron Ramsey got a rare start but was equally ineffective apart from a golden chance to equalize just before the break, but he poked his shot just wide of the post.
“We tried to keep Ramsey wide, giving Juan Cuadrado the opportunity to push up, and we developed the play a different way. We didn’t do what we were supposed to in the first half.
“Arthur has a micro-fracture in his leg, he can’t train regularly, so we have to be careful how much he plays. If he is on the bench, it is purely due to his physical fitness.”
For a change Pirlo was not asked about his future as Juve coach, but how much he had learned in his first season in charge.
“It is different, as the initial expectations both for me and the team were different. I don’t believe that we worked the way we wanted to.
“You learn with every game that goes by, but I am not happy considering the initial expectations and I don’t think the club is either.”