Sold out Stadio Artemio Franchi was in full regalia this evening as the hated Old Lady of Juventus came to town.
It was a big night in Florence, with first place Juventus coming into town with 4 straight wins and outscoring their opponents 11 to 2 to face a newly restructured Fiorentina, currently 6th in the league and undefeated at home. Viola fans, still stinging from the Old Lady's last trip, a 5-0 drubbing, came out in force, waving flags and singing and cheering and whistling the whole match through.
Fiorentina have not won against Juventus since 1998, although they had two draws with the Bianconeri in 2010/11. La Viola have won this season against Udinese and Catania, drew against Parma and lost to Napoli. Juve came into the match with Serie A wins against Parma, Udinese, Genoa and Chievo, as well as a 2-2 draw at Chelsea in the Champions League.
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella put out his standard 3-5-2, with the same defense as he has every match this season, Emiliano Viviano in goal, Facundo Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Nenad Tomvic. He changed up the midfield from teh squad that played on Saturday, however. Romulo started just inside Juan Cuadrado, while Captain Manuel Pasqual returned on the left side of Borja Valero and David Pizzaro. Adem Ljajic replaced Seferovic next to Stevan Jovetic.
Caretaker manager Massimo Carrera put out a line up of goalie Gianluigi Buffon, with defenders Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, midfielders Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Emanuele Giaccherini and Kwadwo Asamoah. Fabio Quagliarella and Sebastian Giovinco spearheaded the Juve attack.
Juventus took the opening kick off and the squads spent the first 5 minutes feeling each other out a bit. Giovinco got off the first shot from a fair distance that Viviano stretched out and collected fairly easily.
Fiorentina came right back with a Cuadrado shot that was blocked on the way in. Giovinco responded with a shot at the 9 minute mark, but it was off target.
12 minutes ensued before the next shots were unleashed, three straight Viola shots, from Jovetic (blocked), Romulo (blocked) and Pasqual (missed). Quagliarella responded with a long shot that was saved in the middle of the goal. That wound up being Juve's last shot on goal and Viola's dad's last save of the evening.
Adem Ljajic came back a few minutes later and got off a shot, but it was blocked on the way in. 5 minutes later Giovinco got off a wide shot and Pirlo took another miss 5 minutes after that.
5 minutes before halftime, Pasqual won a free kick deep in Juve territory, just to the side of the box. Ljajic took the free kick, which Jovetic headed off the cross bar. The next minute, a fast breakwas sprung by Cuadrado to Ljajic. Ljajic broke free of his defender and wound up one on one on Buffon but pushed his shot wide.
The first half ended with blocked shot from Quagliarella. Fiorentina trailed slightly in possession and had a small lead in shots 9-7 .
4 minutes into the second half, Ljajic had a chance just out side the box, but dribbled around and then took a dive and earned himself a yellow card.
from minute 52 to 54 Fiorentina got off three straight shots, a blocked shot from Valero, a screamer from new legend Roncaglia that just missed left and a Jovetic header just wide. A few minutes after that, Ljajic got off a shot that Buffon saved in the corner.
Seven minutes later, Jovetic shot a ball that Buffon also saved, and that turned out to be his last save, as each goalie only was called on for 2 saves.
After another miss from Roncaglia, Giovinco got off a shot that turned out to be Juventus' last shot of the match and from the 73rd minute on, the only offensive threats were from the purple side.
After a few more missed Fiorentina shots, Juan Cuadrado crossed a ball all the way across and through the box that Pasqual got his head on and it drifted just wide of the goal. That turned out to be the last chance of the match. Luca TOni came on for Jovetic, but only managed a few fouls. There was one chance as Pasqual and Toni broke loose, but Pasqual's cross was too far forward for Toni to get to.
The match ended with Fior having 51% possession, out shooting Juve 17 to 8, each squad having two shots on, and Fior owning the best chance of the match, a sharp header off the cross bar.
Viviano(6) - Only called upon for two saves and those were fairly easy. Clean sheet against the best team in the league.
Roncaglia(7.5) - They call him Mitologico, or mythological. Quagliarella was no where to be seen. Facundo had another intervention that turned into a raging charge down the field that fired up the fans, as well as another lash from deep that wasn't so far off. Who would've thought this unknown with the strange name from South America would quickly become the favorite of the fans?
Rodriguez(6) - Never seemed in danger, only can mark him down for a yellow card on Giovinco in a dangerous area. he makes it real easy to forget we used to have some old guy named Christmas in that spot.
Tomovic(6.5) - Had one real amazing stop. never threatened by either Giovino or Vucinic.
Cuadrado(7) - Owned his side for long stretches of the match, started numerous runs, served Ljajic the ball that opened up a one on one. Fired a shot that just barely missed in teh second half. Still has very occasional lapses tho.
Romulo(5) - Put in a lot of effort, but never really showed a lot of quality. Held his side, along with Cuadrado well, but this squad needed a bit more from his position. Subbed for Migliaccio; Migliaccio(NA) came in in stoppage. No chance to make an impact.
Pizarro(7.5) - I would give him 8, but for his yellow card. He dived on the ball as if it were a grenade to stop a Juve charge, but he now faces suspension. All that being said, he has been the most important pickup in the midfield, second only to Roncaglia overall in impact.
Valero(7) - Just as stalwart in the midfield as Pizarro, Had a very poor shot on goal, that would be my only criticism of his season to this point.
Pasqual(6.5) - Had some issues early with his crossing. Ran back and made a game saving clear to prevent Lichtsteiner from going on goal one on one. Just missed a header. Good job for the Captain.
Ljajic(5) - Two dives earned him a yellow card, one shot was scuffed wide, a prime, perhaps THE prime chance for Fior, one on one on Buffon and he put it wide. Needs to do better. Subbed for Fernandez; Fernandez(5.5) - Had some good runs, but wasn't really a factor in the half an hour he was in.
Jovetic(6.5) - Nearly got the lone goal with his header, but bad luck put the cross bar in the way. Never seemed to gel with Ljajic on their give and go plays. Got tired later and was subbed for Toni; Toni(NA) - Only got a few minutes in. On the plus side, he didn't cost Fior the match :)
Montella(7) - 8 points in 5 matches and his squad held their own against the best squad in the league. Putting in Pasqual made a positive difference, but Romulo, not so much. None of his subs made much of a difference, but it didn't hurt him.
The only loss this season was to the second place team in the league. Not bad at all.
“I am definitely satisfied with my lads. We probably deserved to win if we had been a little more incisive or perhaps fortunate. I must compliment the team and the fans, as it was a wonderful evening of sport. We faced an excellent team with open and attacking football. It’s a shame we didn’t win, but we hold on to the performance and the character of this Fiorentina. It would have been wonderful to win and these players deserved a satisfaction like that. We must continue along this path. It’s a long road ahead of us and there could be obstacles. We need balance when considering our campaign. Right now we will enjoy this evening, but we haven’t done anything yet. There’s potential, though.”
“It isn’t always necessary to crush your opponents, as at times you also have to be good at containing them. Fiorentina deserve a lot of credit, as they ran hard for 90 minutes and played very well. We were unable to do what we wanted to. We knew Fiorentina would put in the performance of a lifetime, so it was a show of strength for us to keep them quiet and maintain the clean sheet. We had to block David Pizarro, although we didn’t manage it that often. We need to find a way Pirlo can work more than rest. Playing every three days means Pirlo doesn’t have much time to train, but he is always very important to our team. Leonardo Bonucci had a muscular problem in the warm-up, but his performance was excellent.”
“We were tired tonight, just as our opponents may well have been considering they also played on Saturday. They did well. You can tell Fiorentina have a great Coach and a tactical system they believe in. It can happen to draw a game like this, there’s no shame in that. We suffered, but they only had three or four dangerous scoring opportunities. The fact we kept a clean sheet means this is a point well earned. The public in Florence responded well to the situation, as did ours. There were no incidents and the rivalry was maintained on an acceptable level."
Yellow Card Situation
Disqualification of one game after the 4th, 8th, 12th, 15th and the 17th yellow card.
Past 17, every yellow card is equivalent to a one-match ban.
Pizarro (3) - will be assessed a one game suspension on his next card.
Sunday, Fior travel to the San Siro to face a struggling Inter squad. Inter have yet to win at home in either Serie A or the Europa League. Inter have lost to Hajduk Split, AS Roma and Siena, as well as drawing against FC Vaslui and FK Rubin Kazan, so La Viola will certainly be looking to bring home points.
Sunday, September 30 2:45 ET Internazionale v Fiorentina
Sunday, October 7 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Bologna
Sunday, October 21 9:00 ET Chievo Verona v Fiorentina
Sunday, October 28 10:00 ET Fiorentina v Lazio
Thursday, November 1 3:45 ET Genoa v Fiorentina