The excellent form of Carlos Sanchez emboldened Paolo Sousa to bring back his beloved 3-4-2-1, again featuring a healthy Borja Valero at the expense of Josip Ilicic, ahead of the Milan Badelj and Matias Vecino pivot. For Juventus, Max Allegri went with an injury-hit 3-5-2. Juve had won their last five competitive meetings with Fiorentina, home and away; Fiorentina has been unable to beat Juve in Tuscany since 2013, and before that 1998.
Fiorentina got off to an aggressive start, with Vecino rampaging forward; first he ran through the middle forcing Gianluigi Buffon to make a save, and soon after made a close range shot that went off the post.
The Viola continued to dominate for the first part of the game, with sustained pressure notably from Vecino and the newly renewed Federico Chiesa, although the inability to get any goals made us worry we would see a repeat of previous moral victories. This time however, Nikola Kalinic made the difference, opening scoring off of a Federico Bernardeschi pass.
Juve showed life late, with Alex Sandro testing Ciprian Tatarusanu, but the first half remained in the control of Fiorentina.
Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado lead the charge in the second half for Juve, with a couple of close calls to start the half, most notably a shot by Gonzalo Higuain stopped by Maxi Olivera.
Despite the danger, Fiorentina would double their lead off of a Milan Badelj shot that appeared to be heading for Chiesa, confusing Buffon.
Juve would soon after get back into the match after Higuain, always the Viola killer, managed to convert a lose ball following a cross from Sami Khedira. Juve proceeded to bring on Marko Pjaca but struggled to create any serious chances. The best chance at the end would actually come from Josip Ilicic, who sprung the offside trap only to miss a sitter in typical Ilicic fashion.
Carlos Sanchez: The Colombian has been in fine form, enabling Sousa to bring back his 3 man defense. He mostly lived up to his “Rock” nickname today, neutralizing most threats alongside Gonzalo Rodriguez and Davide Astori.
Matias Vecino: The midfielder continues to find the form of his life. Although it would be nice to see him score more, he was Fiorentina’s biggest threat, especially during the first half.
Federico Chiesa: The youngster is not using his contract extension as an opportunity to rest on his laurels. He terrorized Juve’s defense today.
Josip Ilicic: With Borja Valero healthy again, poor Josip might fine himself sidelined alongside Cristian Tello; although he still has that talent, that sitter won’t do him any favors.
Federico Bernardeschi: In a game where all the starters were above average, nobody was particularly bad, although Bernardeschi was disappointing by his standards, not standing out much. Yet he still assisted the first goal.
Everyone on Juventus.
The team deserves a chance to celebrate after this one; while it may not redeem the season, it keeps the fight for a Europa League spot alive, while forcing Juventus to actually fight for the scudetto, with Roma breathing down their necks.
Fiorentina returns next week to take on Chievo.