Juventus were ever so close to being crowned Serie A Champions and they only needed to win against Fiorentina, and for Lazio to draw or lose, to clinch the title with 5 games to go.
Massimiliano Allegri had rested players in previous games, but for this fixture, players like Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio, Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez and Patrice Evra were back in the starting XI, in an attempt to get the title won.
Juve had lost 2 out of their last 3 league games, but were looking to rectify their recent poor form against a Fiorentina side, which looked to set up in a 3-5-2 formation, with two wing-backs, and 3 centre-backs.
Gianluigi Buffon conceded for the first time in over 600 minutes of football last week, but against a good, high-performing Fiorentina side, the chances of the keeper starting that record again, was slim.
Juventus had to start the game quickly, as this was when the Italian Champions played their best football. Early on in the game, there was some early pressing, led by the Juventus front-men Llorente and Tevez, yet for the pressure to work well, it needed to continue.
Despite the Fiorentina defence being under some early pressing, their forwards still had enough possession to cause the Juventus defenders some problems. One man, who led the attacks, was Mohamed Salah, the loanee from English side, Chelsea. The Egyptian looked impressive as the game developed, and had done extremely well from the start of the season for the Gigliati. He was pulling the strings for his side throughout the first half, and left Andrea Pirlo in his tracks on multiple occasions.
The question that he had to consider was whether or not to go back to the club that didn’t want him after purchasing him, or the side which had welcomed him, and taken him under their wing?
The fast start from Juventus didn’t start long, and after 7 minutes, it was the away side that were in control. The main action of the first half seemed to be coming down the right side for Fiorentina, with the veteran Joaquin, facing Patrice Evra. The Spanish winger had started on-top of the left-back, and with this being the case, Fiorentina looked to exploit this ‘weakness’.
Despite Juventus being a little less sharp then they were last season; they were the side who looked to open the scoring. Fernando Llorente received the ball to his feet, with his back to goal, and rolled the Fiorentina defender to make some space to get a shot off at goal. As the forward turned, he was pulled to the ground in the 6 yard box, yet no penalty was given.
Both sides were having good chances, but the final ball for either side was nowhere near good enough to finish any of the chances off.
PENALTY – FIORENTINA – Joaquin got the ball once again from a short corner, and attempted to take on Pirlo, who knocked the Fiorentina winger to the ground, after leaving his leg in the path of the Spaniard. A definite penalty.
33 MIN – GOAL – RODRIGUEZ – A well-taken penalty, struck into the top corner.
JUVENTUS 0 – 1 FIORENTINA
BOOKED – NETO – The goalkeeper came running out of his area to close down Stefano Sturaro out wide. He looked to make contact with the Juve man, but on closer inspection, there was no contact whatsoever. An atrocious dive.
36 MIN – GOAL – LLORENTE – The 6-foot-5 striker tied the game up. The free-kick following Neto’s booking was delivered perfectly by Andrea Pirlo, and with Stefan Savic caught on the wrong side of Llorente, the Spanish striker flicked the ball into the net.
JUVENTUS 1 – 1 FIORENTINA
BOOKED – RODRIGUEZ – Ball went out for a corner, but the Fiorentina captain was fuming that the decision had been given.
Following the Juventus corner, Patrice Evra rose above the Fiorentina defenders and triggered Neto into making a tremendous save.
45 MIN – GOAL – TEVEZ – His 19th goal of the season. Evra picked out the run of the ex-Manchester City striker, and played a deep pass towards his head. The pass was inch-perfect, and Tevez lifted the header over Neto and into the goal.
JUVENTUS 2 – 1 FIORENTINA
JUVENTUS 2 – 1 FIORENTINA
BOOKED – EVRA – Tripped Alberto Aquilani as the Italian drove forward on the counter-attack.
From the resulting Fiorentina free-kick, Mario Gomez, was once again pulled to the ground by Patrice Evra, and for a good reason, Gomez was furious with the referee waving off his appeals. In the replay, it was clear that Evra had a clear hold of the striker’s shirt, and a penalty should have been given to Fiorentina.
Following the penalty appeal, Juventus were beginning to look a little uncomfortable again, and they had lost their fluency despite being 2-1 up.
56 MIN – SUB – OFF: PIRLO – Signs beginning to show, that the maestro is on his way out, ON: VIDAL
PENALTY – FIORENTINA – Once again, Joaquin was causing the problems for the Juventus defence, and on this occasion, he found himself 1-on-1 with Chiellini. The defender swept the Fiorentina winger off his feet, and the referee had no choice but to award Fiorentina yet another penalty. A big chance to equalise…
MISSED – Rodriguez stepped up for the penalty again, but this time around, the ball flew wide of the target. A truly awful penalty. Juventus had been given a warning; the game was not over just yet.
70 MIN – GOAL – TEVEZ – 20th goal from 30 league games for the Argentinian. Gonzalo Rodriguez tried to play the offside trap, but Carlos Tevez beat it, ran towards goal, and hit a strike across Neto and into the bottom corner.
JUVENTUS 3 – 1 FIORENTINA
71 MIN – SUB – OFF: PEREYRA, ON: OGBONNA – A conservative move to 3 centre-backs.
72 MIN – SUB – OFF: GOMEZ – Simply wasn’t his night, ON: GILARDINO
BOOKED – AQUILANI – Committed a late tackle on Patrice Evra.
76 MIN – SUB – OFF: FERNANDEZ, ON: BORJA VALERO
77 MIN – SUB – OFF: STURARO – Should be pleased with his performance, ON: PADOIN
As the game fizzled out, Fiorentina looked to be slowing down, in terms of tempo and attacks; their passes were not fast enough to reach their destinations, and lacked accuracy.
81 MIN – SUB – OFF: SALAH – Had performed well, but slowed in the second half, ON: ILICIC
90 MIN – GOAL – ILICIC – Following a long period of stationary football, the newly-substituted striker reduced Fiorentina’s arrears, with a terrific free-kick. The ball was lifted over the top of the Juventus wall, and even though Gigi Buffon got a hand to the free-kick, the shot was too powerful to keep out.
JUVENTUS 3 – 2 FIORENTINA
4 ADDED MINS
BOOKED – GILARDINO – As he got up for a header with Arturo Vidal, the striker collided with the Juve man in mid-air.
JUVENTUS 3 – 2 FIORENTINA
STAR MAN: CARLOS TEVEZ
Juventus take another step towards the Serie A title. They had not won it just yet, as Lazio had also won their game against Parma. Despite gaining a vital 3 points, Juve looked disjointed at times, and Fiorentina looked to cause trouble from the first minute.
Not enough trouble though…
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Smith