In a blow against tyranny being felt the world over, Fiorentina defeated Juventus earlier today in Series A’s match of the year. The Viola went up early on a skillful goal before eventually going down 2-1. Things looked grim when Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli put on two kids as subs in the second half, (Papa Waigo and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo) but both players suggested the coach may know what he is doing by scoring the equalizer and game winner, respectively.
What a special day I’ve had. The game was televised at 9AM here on the east coast of the United States, but I missed the live broadcast as I was at birthing classes with my wife. (We are having our first child in a few months.) As excited as I am about the prospect of becoming a dad, I admit that my mind did wander pretty constantly to events in Turin. However, my lovely wife encouraged me not to check the scores until I got home, so I could watch the game as if it was “live” on the DVR. I finally started around 5PM, making me one of the happiest Fiorentina fans in the world, but also probably the last to know the good news. Anyway, enough about me: on with the recap.
Neither side looked particularly crisp early, although both teams did exchange dangerous scoring chances in the 4th and 5th minutes. In the 6th Montolivo dropped a beautiful long pass into the box, anticipating the fine, hustling day he would have. Ujfalusi and Kuzmanovic were very aggressive down the right early. In the 15th Santana (another player on the long list of Fiorentina guys having good days) exploited a mistake by Molinaro to create a dangerous shot on goal. Fiorentina was dominating at this point for eight and ten minute stretches. Finally this pays off in the 19th when Gobbi engaged in a fine 1-2 with Jorgenson that leads to the first goal of the game. 1-0 to Fiorentina.
The Viola almost make it 2-0 in the 21st on a move that demands a fine save by Buffon. We also heard a rare bit of cogent analysis from the announcers on FSC, who correctly surmise that the purple are basically playing a 4-3-3 on offense and a 4-5-1 when defending. This of course creates tremendous pressure on the wingers up front, but the boys (particularly Santana) are up to it today.
In the 29th Frey is unable to punch the ball out of the box far enough to avert danger and Mohamed Sissoko bicycles it in to draw the match at 1-all. Fiorentina dominates further stretches until the close of the half, although Juventus seemed to be finding its legs during the final minutes. We go into the break 1-1.
Fiorentina continue their dominate play early in the second half, although at a much slower rate of play. Juve is finding their stride within ten minutes, however, and in the 56th Camoranesi beautifully places a skillful cross in the back of the net to make it 2-1 Juventus. There is much despair, at least in my house.
Juventus responds to the lead by pulling back; eventually Camoranesi and Del Piero are pulled off in favor of more defensive substitutes. Prandelli, meanwhile, responds by sending out every young attacker he can get his hands on, including Osvaldo for Ujfalusi and Papa Waigo for Santana, who was doing fine work all game. Even with the young substitutes, however, the visitors look tired, and the youth and inexperience of the front line of Pazzini, Papa Waigo, and Osvaldo shows by the multiple offsides that are accruing in their first minutes on the field. However, all the moves made by Prandelli were purely offensive ones, and that spirit begins to show itself. They earn a hard-won corner in the 70th, and in the 75th Papa Waigo capitalizes on chaos in the Juve penalty box and a sweet feed by Pazzini to equalize the game at 2-2.
The teams genuinely look tired in the last ten minutes, and Fiorentina is saved by, well, a great save from Frey in the 84th to keep the score level. In the last ten minutes, however, Papa Waigo creates more and more danger with his energy and sheer speed. Finally, in the 92nd, he skillfully controlled a ball into the box and gently crossed it to Osvaldo, who headed it home to make the score 3-2 Fiorentina. The Viola had their first win vs. Juve in Turin in twenty years, there was presumably chaos in the streets of Florence, and also a great deal of cheering in my happy little home.
Obviously this is a huge, huge win for the Viola. Not only because it was their first win at the Olimpico vs. Juventus since Miami Vice was popular, but because it brought them within one point of third place and four points up on AC Milan, their nearest competitor for the 4th Champions League spot. With winnable games coming up for the squad in the near future, it is possible this likeable group of young men might just qualify for the Champions League.
This kind of win is also great ammunition as they gear up to play Everton in a very tough UEFA cup matchup on Thursday. That game will undoubtedly be tough, but if this wasn’t a confidence-booster, then confidence-boosters don’t exist.
Finally, and very sincerely, it is a win like this that reminds us all of why we like sports. Following any team, no matter how successful, involves following them through the rough patches, but wins against rivals on days like this help me remember why I care so passionately. Thank you, Fiorentina.
This week I will be focusing mostly on the UEFA Cup. However, we might have to look back at this match a little more. I’m having too much fun.