Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina: Marchisio Puts Bianconeri on Top (Serie A Matchday 20)

The Bianconeri can pat themselves on the back. After a long climb the Old Lady reached the peak of Serie A, planting her flag at the top; some very much needed black & white colours to break the monotony of a landscape of Neroazzurro. And even if this satisfaction is short-lived (the José-boys may or may not resume their climb 24 hours later), it’s something that in terms of team morale has enormous intrinsic value. It’s a battle cry for the troops, and a clear message to the bitter rivals: “Inter Beware”.

As for the match itself, it should come as no surprises that Juventus vs. Fiorentina was the theater once again of a valiant battle; a game fought on all parts of the field, without many goals but plenty of scoring chances on either side. And the usual little zest of controversy. Indeed, La Viola may feel hard-done by a penalty non-call to Jovetic and a (wrongly) disallowed goal by Gilardino.

Juve won’t care though, the Bianconeri reached their goal: 3 points and the temporary 1st place of Serie A. Together with a big bonus: the return of their nº1 goalkeeper in net. And say all you want about Manninger’s extremely satisfactory sub role so far… the Old Lady just isn’t the same without Gigi Buffon. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Viola strikers…

Tactically, there were no surprises for Juve. Ranieri presented his usual 4-4-2 formation with Amauri-Del Piero up front, and a thick defensive mid line led by Marchisio and C.Zanetti (Sissoko was suspended). On the other end, Prandelli had to deal with the last-minute defection of Juan Manuel Vargas, replaced by Pasqual, which in turn pushed Massimo Gobbi further up the wing (in lieu of Kuzmanovic).

The first half was quite entertaining, both teams electing to play a short-passing game with high defensive lines. The idea was to keep the opposing strikers offside, but the strategy didn’t always work and resulted in some mouth-watering goal opportunities on both ends. In particular (and despite dropping in performance in the second half), the main main of the first 45 minutes was Alessandro Del Piero: the Juve captain clocked up the kilometres, ranging far and wide over the pitch and arming his “esterno destro” on three separate occasions. Indeed, it was with the outside of the foot that ADP first tried chipping Doni from the edge of the box (narrowly over), set up Marco Marchionni with a one-on-one chance with (the French keeper made two super-saves), and then provided the assist behind the Viola defense for Claudio Marchisio‘s opener. 1-0 Juventus and deservedly so.

Fiorentina reacted like wounded beasts. After a fruitless protest for a slight contact between Mellberg & Jovetic, just inside the Bianconeri penalty area (a penalty wouldn’t have been scandalous, even though the Montenegrin striker embellished the fall), the Viola ramped up the pressure and managed to give Buffon goose bumps on an already icy cold evening. First it was Santana, who wasted a chance from a good position by shooting the ball high over the bar. Then came Fiorentina’s golden opportunity: Pasqual sent a fast, sharp cross toward Santana who leapt before anyone else close to the first post, finding only the crossbar to deny his header. Montolivo went for the rebound, Buffon parried into the path of Gilardino and the ball was in the net. 1-1? Gila’s shout for joy was short-lived: Saccani disallowed the goal for a non-existent offside. 1-0 at the half.

In the second period, Prandelli substituted Gobbi with Kuzmanovic and pushed Santana further up. Fiorentina returned to their familiar 4-3-3 formation and began to press forward, but the absence of a certain Adrian Mutu was becoming increasingly heartfelt. Pasqual forced Buffon to keep close guard with a left-wing effort, and was immediately imitated by Grygera on the other end. Frey’s intervention was in-line with his Azzurri counterpart.

And speaking of Gigi, at the 70th minute mark Juve provided a warm “welcome back” to Italy’s nº1, where the term “lifesaver” doesn’t even come close to an accurate descriptor. Buffon was absolutely fantastic in a close-range Gilardino re-direct, using his feet to save an almost certain goal and keeping Ranieri’s 14th Serie A win this season on ice. The fans at the Olimpico went wild, and nearly erupted into rapture when Sebastian Giovinco (on for Del Piero) came close to doubling their score through a lightning-fast counter-attack.

In the dying minutes a Jovetic half-volley gave one final scare to Buffon, but the Bianconeri, true to their strong character, held tight and managed to keep the Viola pride in check. “Operation catch-up” has been successfully completed; the is now ball into Inter’s court.


Juventus F.C.
[Match Highlights]
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 21’ Marchisio (J).
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Mellberg, Legrottaglie, De Ceglie – Marchionni, Marchisio, C.Zanetti (89’ Poulsen), Nedved – Amauri, Del Piero (77’ Giovinco). (bench: Chimenti, Ariaudo, Ekdal, Iaquinta, Yago). Coach: Ranieri.
FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2): Frey – Zauri, Gamberini, Kroldrup, Pasqual – Montolivo, Felipe Melo, Gobbi (46’ Kuzmanovic) – Santana (73’ Bonazzoli) – Gilardino, Jovetic. (bench: Storari, Dainelli, Donadel, Semioli). Coach: Prandelli.


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Posted in Fiorentina, Juventus, Serie A |

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