Vincenzo Italiano picked Jonathan Ikone and Riccardo Saponara as his wingers, as Nicolás González was dealing with a cold. Pietro Terracciano returned between the sticks. Max Allegri went for three at the back with Mattia de Sciglio in defense and handed youngster Marley Aké his first-ever start for the senior side, while Moise Kean got the nod up front. And yes, Dušan Vlahović was in the lineup as well.
The real story before kickoff was the atmosphere at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, though. With Gabriel Batistuta in attendance—and you have to feel like that’s a reproach directed at Susan—the Curva Fiesole led the entire Artemio Franchi into such a raucous atmosphere (even at 75% capacity) that the announcers were forced to turn down the volume on their stadium mics. Also, check out this tifo. Firenze is the best.
The Viola started turning the screws right from the start and never really stopped, pressing Juventus relentlessly and never giving them a yard of space or a second’s respite. Giacomo Bonaventura in particular impressed in midfield, twisting and turning through defenders to drive his side into the final third, while Lucas Torreira appeared whenever the Bianconeri considered getting into the attack to dissuade them. Ikone was also brilliant at dribbling, leaving de Sciglio and Luca Pellegrini chasing ghosts.
Jack did, however, miss a golden chance when the press forced Mattia Perin into a bad pass that the veteran couldn’t turn into the empty net from the edge of the box, although he was under significant pressure. Ikone also missed a couple of decent chances. When the whistle went, Juve had managed just one shot—a deflected effort from range—while the Viola had peppered Perin’s goal, although they’d either missed or made all the saves relatively simple. It was clear who the better side had been, and it felt like it was just a matter of making it count after the break.
Álvaro Odriozola had to come off and on came Lorenzo Venuti, but the Viola continued to dominate, picking up right where they left off and creating a few sparkling moments, none more agonizing than a gorgeous ball in behind from Torreira to Ikone, who curled his shot off the upright with Perin well beaten. Fiorentina kept pouring numbers forward, but the Juvenuts, now with Juan Cuadrado and Morata on the field, started to offer a bit of a threat on the counter.
Even so, it was all one way traffic with the hosts just lacking that final touch; substitute Riccardo Sottil, unfortunately, ruined a handful of promising attacks with bad decisions and selfish play. Because this is Fiorentina, though, it all went haywire with a minute left in stoppage time: Cuadrado fizzed in a cross across the face of goal that Nikola Milenković tried to clear, but it went off Venuti’s chest and in.
While it was a brutal way to concede for a team that had dominated the game, spare a thought for Lollo, who was almost in tears, even though he couldn’t have done anything else.
Goals: Venuti OG 90’+1
Cards: Bonaventura 71’, Milenković 72’, Torreira 90’; Pellegrini 57’, de Sciglio 79’
There’s no time to mope because Fiorentina have a dangerous Hellas Verona side on Saturday. The real kicker here, of course, is that the reverse fixture isn’t until 21 April; 7 weeks between legs is monumentally stupid on principle, of course, but will also give Juve’s host of injured players enough time to heal up and return.
For the moment, though, let’s all marvel at how the team that took 22 shots (6 on frame) while conceding 6 (1 on frame) and had 55% of the ball still managed to lose this. And let’s all send our love to Venuti, who is still a wonderful player and person and deserves our support.