I just don’t think they thought it was this former Fiorentina player.
In what might be his parting gift to Juventus as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season, it was Federico Bernardeschi — the lesser of the two Fedes on the roster — who gave the Bianconeri a much more comfortable road to the Coppa Italia final. Bernardeschi’s goal, a looping shot that looked like it was that kind of shot he’d score during his time in Florence, gave Juventus exactly what it needed after gritting its teeth through the first leg nearly two months ago — some breathing room. From there, it was rather routine even though Juve didn’t see much of the ball at all, as Max Allegri’s squad advanced to another Coppa Italia final with a 2-0 win on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.
Seriously, though ... that goal from Bernardeschi. That goal from the same guy who hadn’t scored for club or country since before Christmas — and his on goal of the season, too! — just went out and did that.
If you want a list of dudes who you probably wouldn’t put money to score, Bernardeschi would surely be on there. And then to go out and do just that and in that manner — my goodness that was about as pleasant of a surprise as pleasant surprises get.
And it’s the goal that essentially locked up a Coppa Italia final place.
Behold the Federico Bernardeschi revenge game even with another game against Fiorentina still to come at the end of the season. Berna did good. Really, really good.
But it was this game that was such a unique kind of deal. You knew Fiorentina would come out attacking because they had to score at least twice if they wanted to continue their surprising Coppa Italia run. For large portions, Fiorentina had so much of the ball, but couldn’t really do all that much of significance with it. You look at the final numbers and see Fiorentina with 69% (nice) of the possession and think that they should have dominated this game. But they didn’t. Juventus played it perfectly — they hit Fiorentina on the counter, they were dangerous on said counter and even with all that possession it’s not like La Viola was peppering Mattia Perin’s goal.
Mostly all of the numbers favor Fiorentina — possession, shots created, corner kicks, yadayadayada. But the final score? Well, that favors Juventus. Thank goodness it did.
Essentially, Juventus just absorbed all of Fiorentina’s pressure and, unlike previous games where they’ve been set up like this, was very, very threatening on the counterattack. That hasn’t always been the case when Allegri has set his team up like this during the course of his return season in Turin, but on this night he definitely got things right. And his players went out and played it pretty damn well.
It was sure a lot better of a performance we saw in the first leg. And what do you know? Juventus won both of them. Funny how that works out.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juve had 34% possession in the first half.
- Juve had 30% possession in the second half.
- Yet as that second half went on, who did you feel like the more dangerous team was? Because when you look at how that second half went, Juventus definitely had the better chances after the break. This was Max Allegri counterattacking football at its best.
- Allegri played every single Juventus player that has also played for Fiorentina at some point of their career. That’s a little salt in the wound, methinks.
- One of those former Fiorentina players, Juan Cuadrado, sure had a pretty assist to set up Danilo’s late goal to double Juventus’ lead. That was awesome.
- Mattia De Sciglio will miss the Coppa Italia final thanks to the yellow card he picked up in the first half Wednesday night. How ever will we survive!!!
- Speaking of dudes named Mattia in this game ... After the first nervy moment Mattia Perin had where he fumbled an attempted cross he tried to collect in the air, Juve’s No. 2 keeper was simply nails. That save early in the second half was simply superb and he just showed once again what a good natural shot stopper he can be regardless of how little he’s played over the course of the 2021-22 season.
- Adrien Rabiot, even with the goal called off for offside, was good!
- Alex Sandro, even with how inconsistent he’s been this season, was good!
- Leonardo Bonucci, even after taking a knock to his ankle and then jokingly putting his hand over a sideline camera, was good!
- Basically what I am trying to say is that even with all that possession Fiorentina had, it’s not like Perin’s goal was completely flooded with saves to make. The defense (and midfield) in front of him did their job most of the night and the few chances that Fiorentina did put on frame, Perin was up to the challenge. That is usually a pretty good recipe for success.
- Who led everybody in tackles? Alex Sandro and Adrien Rabiot.
- Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt combined for 14 clearances. That’s a lot.
- Giorgio Chiellini, in a very Giorgio Chiellini-like move, sprints over to make a clearance as he’s trying to put the captain’s armband on just seconds after coming on. God I love him.
- Denis Zakaria nearly scored twice. Dude is good and adds so much to Juve’s midfield — even when it’s a makeshift version like this one was — when he’s healthy. So please stay healthy, Denis. We like you.
- One of my biggest worries coming into this game was how Juve’s fullbacks, knowing that they aren’t the fastest guys out there, would handle Fiorentina’s speed on the wings. There were moments that made you nervous, but a lot like the defense as a whole they got the job done. That’s how you throw your worries out the window.
- Juventus vs. Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final next month. Buckle up and get your popcorn, folks. This has the potential to be a good one.