While you could argue that a win should be precisely three times as satisfying as a draw, this one was so much more, breaking a string of three straight deadlocks across all competitions. Here's how the numbers (from WhoScored.com) break down.
|Shots (on goal)||Shots inside/outside area||Possession||Passes (short/long)||Passing success||Crosses/attempted||Dribbles/attempted||Aerial duels won/attempted||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Clearances||Fouls||Yellow/red cards||Corners||Offsides|
|Fiorentina||14 (5)||9/4||55%||562 (479/61)||81%||6/15||7/9||16/21||18/27||24||22||16||2/0||7||2|
|Udinese||8 (0)||6/2||45%||472 (377/72)||76%||6/23||9/19||15/21||14/21||24||12||14||5/0||1||6|
|Short passes/attempted||Long passes/attempted||Crosses/attempted||Touches||Shots (on target)||Shots inside/outside area||Dribbles/attempted||Possession lost||Tackles/attempted||Interceptions||Clearances||Successful aerial battles||Fouls committed/suffered||Yellow/red cards||Offsides||Saves||Goals||Assists||Minutes|
For the first time in a couple of weeks, Paulo Sousa seemed to have a solution to an opponent determined to press. He instructed his center backs to aim long passes at the attacking tridente, bypassing Udinese's midfield press. This met with mixed success, as the defenders eschewed knocking the ball back and forth amongst each other in favor of going long. The problem with this strategy is that, with Borja Valero, Josip Ilicic, and Nikola Kalinic up top, there's not any speed to threaten the opposing defense; once one of those three has the ball, they hold it up until the rest of the team catches up, which also allows the defense time to get back and get set. I'm also still deeply confused about the final system; almost seemed like an Arsene Wenger-style 4-4-1-1 with fullbacks on the wings to kill off the game. Weird. Still, it's good to see that a) Fiorentina can still erupt for three goals even on a rather uninspired day, b) Sousa is trying to figure out how to beat an energetic press, and c) SECOND PLACE WOOHOO.
Quick thoughts: Nenad Tomovic was brilliant in defense tonight, but good heavens is his long passing atrocious. I keep on waiting for one of those Matías Vecino blasts to go in; dude can crank it, but just can't quite seem to get one in. Federico Bernardeschi was bound to come back to earth eventually, but giving the ball away 11 times is bad no matter what; Berna needs to get back to playing within himself. Borja looked out of sorts in this one, possibly due to an early knock to his ankle.