Juve sock it to Fiorentina

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Alessandro MatriGettyImagesAlessandro Matri celebrates with boot in hand after scoring Juve's second against Fiorentina

With one kick of the ball in his sock, Alessandro Matri scored Juventus' second and last goal to effectively end the match. That goal not only permitted the Old Lady to control the rest of the game but also saw Fiorentina accept their fate as the defeated team.

- Report: Juve stay out in front

Fiorentina in truth were awfully disappointing. Coach Vincenzo Montella might have acknowledged Juve's superiority but he insisted that his side challenged. They didn't. Andrea Pirlo was allowed ample space and time to pick out passes and launch offensive movements whilst the back-line were guilty of one too many individual errors that ought to have been better exploited by the Bianconeri front-line.

In attack, Borja Valero and David Pizarro were dispossessed far too often to impact the game in the manner they desired whilst the side’s inaccurate crossing made for terrible viewing. Meanwhile, in defence, despite flooding the area when Juventus were in possession and attacking they failed to pressure the opponent effectively. Any defending the Viola did attempt either arrived late or was too severe, resulting in them giving away several free-kicks around the area.

For a side that was expected to limit Juve's passing game and restrict the home side's ability to play the ball out from attack, Fiorentina failed. After they conceded the two goals, they allowed themselves to think it was all over and barely attempted to get back into the game. A historic rivalry between the two seemed to have little impact on the stars of the Viola.

For Juventus, this was the perfect game to play before they jet off to Scotland to face Celtic in the Champions League clash on Tuesday. Playing a match where they were permitted to control the game for the whole 90 minutes allowed them to believe in their strength. With the midfield trio reunited, it was evident to see the chemistry and how well they all understand each other’s movements.

For the first 20 minutes, Pirlo, who usually sits the deepest, was in fact pressing for the ball at the top, allowing Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal to provide security for the defence behind him. They rotated their tasks impressively well. When Marchisio made his runs from midfield to contribute offensively, the others would sit back and provide cover. When Vidal pushed up to overcome his markers and create, his midfield team-mates remained in position.

It is this masterful midfield that makes the Old Lady so special. It is also what made life so difficult for Fiorentina. Vidal especially was in stunning form on the night. Running relentlessly to cover space, his tackling was perfection whilst he provided the aerial threat Juventus have been missing due to the absence of Giorgio Chiellini.

Whilst his passing accuracy could be improved in that his chaotic play does allow opponents to dispossess him, he proved effective in snatching possession back to launch Juventus forward. His sublime control of the ball to provide the assist for Alessandro Matri was perhaps the best move of the game. In the box, the Chilean’s concentration is unrivalled. Not even Juve's forwards who struggle to convert could squander the perfect chance Vidal created.

The one criticism one could have of Juventus is that they often do not have enough bodies in the area when attacking. When Vucinic went clear on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, he was hoping to have Matri slip alongside him so that he could square the ball. Without any one beside him, the Montenegrin decided to shoot straight at Emiliano Viviano. In truth he should have been able to handle the situation all by himself.

However, solitude upfront is a frequent occurrence for the Bianconeri with the first instance of it happening in the eighth minute. Marchisio had made a splendid run to the top and Pirlo spotted it before then delivering a delicious pass. The angle proved too difficult for Il Principino to score but he did manage to pass it and had there been another presence in the box then Juventus would have scored. Annoyingly for the Bianconeri, Matri did not make the right run forward to offer assistance and neither did anyone else.

Despite superior quality in terms of personnel, Juventus won the match due to their mental fortitude. They wanted to the win to prove their strength and go into the match midweek with confidence. Fiorentina may be an aesthetically pleasing side that thrill with their technical ability but, when put in a difficult situation, they caved in far too easily.

This was a deserved victory for the Old Lady and another disappointment for a Fiorentina side that is yet to recapture their form from earlier in the season.

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