Fiorentina and Juventus faced off today in the first of three meetings to decide Serie A places and Europa League advancement and Juve barely scraped out a 1-0 win in round one.
Fiorentina played the match close to the vest in the first half, letting Juventus come at them time and again and only launching the infrequent counter and spending very little time in the attacking zone, and that time all ineffective.
Missing Borja Valero and Nenad Tomovic due to suspensions, the team struggled for any possession and was out shot 13 to 3 in the first half. Juve was also without an important piece as Andrea Pirlo was also suspended.
The strategy seemed to be working well, but shortly before halftime Kwadwo Asamoah made an impressive move to free up a bit of space between three Viola defenders and lashed an amazing strike that went off the far post to put Juve ahead.
Fiorentina came out much more seriously in the second half, but it wasn't until Matias Fernandez and Rafal Wolski entered the match that they began to force Juve back into their defensive zone and put pressure on the home team.
Fiorentina had an outstanding chance as Ryder Matos, brought on for an invisible Mario Gomez late, got open and put a header on the cross bar, but Buffon was able to corral the rebound.
Fiorentina had one last chance on a free kick in the atacking zone, but got cute with a set play and rather than Fernandez putting it on net, he scooted it to Vargas who kicked it straight into a defender.
The win should leave fans with some hope for the next match, although Juventus will have Pirlo back and Pablo Osvaldo should make an appearance as well. The former Viola player took the match off, but was in the stands. Osvaldo scored the goal on the last Viola victory at Juve.
Neto(6.5) - Only called on for one save and had no chance on the loan Juve goal. Came out bravely on a badly headed back pass from Gonzalo with Tevez charging down on him.
Diakite(4) - wow, pretty sucky match for him. bad passes, bad clearing, unable to stand up to his man. Need better.
Rodriguez(7) - solid in defense, Juve peppered the box in teh first half and nothing got through.
Savic(7) - same for Savic, totally solid. can't even count the number of headers out of the box in the first half
Pasqual(5) - Showed just how much really not a defender, He focuses so much going forward, when's he required to stay home he's like a lost child.
Aquilani(5) - lost in the first half, looked better in the second when he took over Pizarro's role.
Pizarro(5) - A shadow of what he was last year. his time here is drawing to an end.
Anderson(5.5) - I'm not going to be as harsh on Andow as some were today. He was the only player in the midfield worth a crap in the first half, unfortunatelym, he's not the kind of player that can do it on his own.
Cuadrado(5,5) - wasn't himself today. Whether that's due to Juve's defense or no midfield support, we'll need him to do better.
Gomez(5) - struggling. no support and yet he wasn't able to get himself open either.
Vargas(5) - invisible. horrible strike on the free kick in the last chance saloon.
Fernandez for Anderson '57 (7) - changed the whole tempo of the match when he came on. He's the future.
Wolski for pizarro '66 (7) - another piece of the future, still raw, but such talent.
Matos for Gomez '77 (6) - I'm not going to be as harsh as other s were today on Ryder. Yes there was a lot of moaning about how "gomez would have scored that," but I call bullcrap on that statement. Gomez would NOT have scored that because Gomez wouldn't have been able to get open to have the chance. Gomez is not making the runs, Gomez is not getting away from his defenders, Gomez isn't really doing crap. (for the record, firenze Viola rates Matos at a 6.5 for today)
Montella(5.5) - I'm rating Montella low for playing for a 0-0 tie. It took a goal to make him actually try to win. That's never going to fly in Firenze. of course, Vincenzo, much like a chess player, has to think a few moves ahead, so maybe he was just trying to reserve some energy and once it was necessary, he put the players out that would make the difference in Fernandez and Wolski. Wolski instead of Ilicic was a fairly big gamble. Putting Matos in was a debatable choice, but really, I don't see Matri making much of a difference, i can see why he was getting Milan fan's scorn. Other than the first two goals, he's been fairly useless.
"When you play against a team like Juventus, a lot depends on them. We played very deep in the first half, but despite that they didn’t really have that many scoring opportunities."
"It wasn’t the game we wanted to play, but we were more advanced in the second half and had a few chances to equalise. It’s a shame."
"We all know Juve are a very strong side in all aspects, so in all honesty I thought we played a very good second half and very well could have equalised."
"The team slowly gained confidence and faced less intense pressure. I am satisfied with the reaction after an unusual first half for us, as we rarely play with that attitude, but we still need faith and optimism."
"We know what awaits us on Thursday and have the chance to have our say using our characteristics."
Serie A Goals
(* indicates a goal in this match)
Yellow Card Accumulation
(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. (Players receiving yellow cards in this match have an *, red cards #)
Rodriguez (10) *
Aquilani (7) *
Valero (4) - misses next three matches for suspension
Compper(3) - misses match on next yellow
Pasqual (3) - misses match on next yellow
Savic (3) * - misses match on next yellow
Round two of the three round knock-out drag-out prize fight with Juve. Pirlo should be back, but so will Valero and Tomovic. Osvaldo will probably feature as well.
Short three day break before a must win against Chievo and then the return league with Juve.
No rest for the weary as a trip to Napoli looms with a midweek visit from Milan to follow.
Meanwhile, teams are catching up as Parma and Inter are crowding 4th place.
Thu Mar 13 4:05 ET Juventus v Fiorentina - Europa League (Third Round)
Sun Mar 16 3:45 ET Fiorentina v Chievo Verona
Thu Mar 20 2:00 ET Fiorentina v Juventus - Europa League (Third Round)
Sun Mar 23 1:30 ET Napoli v Fiorentina
Wed Mar 26 10:00 ET Fiorentina v AC Milan
Sun Mar 30 9:00 ET Sampdoria v Fiorentina
Sun Apr 6 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Udinese
Sun Apr 13 9:00 ET Hellas Verona v Fiorentina
Sat Apr 19 9:00 ET Fiorentina v AS Roma
Sun Apr 27 9:00 ET Bologna v Fiorentina
Sat May 3 2:45 ET Fiorentina v Napoli - Coppa Italia (Final)
Sun May 4 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Sassuolo
Sun May 11 9:00 ET Livorno v Fiorentina
Sun May 18 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Torino
End Of Season