Juventus 1 – 0 Fiorentina

9 Mar

Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina

Scrappy. Is probably the best way to describe what I just endured. A game lacking quality on the part of our visitors and energy in our own ranks. Decided by a moment of world class magic by Asamoah…

We were in the ascendancy for most of the first half. Tevez was finding good positions. Lichsteiner, who had a very poor game overall, should have done much better when finding the ball at his feet in the 18 yard box and the goal to aim at. He spooned the chance horridly. There was also a clear cut opening for Pogba, who brought the ball down with his knee, then struck at it wildly, the resulting shot more likely to kill a bird than find the net.

The goal…was a thing of rare beauty. Found by Chiellini on the edge of the 18 yard box, Asamoah had four defenders in close attendance. Working the ball through his quick feet, he made a yard out of nothing and smashed an unstoppable missile of a shot into the far top corner. Absolutely outstanding.

Scoring just before half-time, when we had certainly been the dominant, more attacking side, seemed reasonable. However, after the break, we slumped woefully..

The clock was reaching the 63rd minute before I even saw Vidal. Pogba was tiring fast, making the odd error, but far more effective and involved than his two midfield partners. Our opponents were increasingly all over us, pushing for the equalizer.

A goal was struck off for offside, Gomez was given a free header which thankfully flew wide and before the final whistle came, the visitors hit the bar after a well worked series of headers.

Conte’s substitutions were somewhat bothersome, if not bemusing. Lichsteiner had been in need of removal since the first whistle. It loosely made sense to bring on Caceres. Removing Tevez for Isla, was less reasonable. It moved us to a 4-5-1, set us out to sit deep when a team was attacking us constantly. To make matters even worse, Conte then went on to swap Marchiso for Padoin.

The dying moments summed up the game as a whole when after winning a free-kick in a useful position deep on the left wing, we resorted to time wasting. Which is far removed from the natural instincts and tendencies of true champions, when winning a game 1-0 in their own stadium.

A hard fought, less than satisfying victory.

Player Ratings

Buffon-

Mainly a spectator for the first half but had to be alert constantly in the second period. Showed his class and value to the club when racing out to act as a libero, chesting the ball down outside his area then clearing to safety. Solid. 7/10.

Chiellini-

Wonderful to have him back. A little rusty, but made several key interceptions, won his aerial battles. Just needs Bonucci back in place of the still fragile at times Ogbonna. 6/10.

Barzagli-

Still working his way back to match sharpness after a few weeks off the pitch injured. Another slip, but his blushes were saved by Buffon. I’m happy he is back, but Andrea needs to regain his composure. 6/10.

Ogbonna-

We missed Bonucci’s ability to put his foot on the ball and pick out a pass. Angelo was hesitant often when in possession, opting to play the most simple safe pass rather than attempting to pick someone out further up the field. Still finding his feet in the team. 6/10.

Lichsteiner-

A wretched showing from our Swiss dynamo. Whined whenever he lost the ball, missed a brilliant chance to at least test the keeper from close range and simply never looked comfortable. Should have been subbed off sooner, for Isla, if not shot. 4/10.

Asamoah-

A contender for goal of the season…for goal of any season. Such was the quality of his wonder strike which won us the game. He doesn’t score many but when he does, they are invariably screamers. Both defensively and offensively he was in fine fettle. 9/10.

Vidal-

One of his least effective performances in a Juve shirt this season. Seemed fatigued and lethargic. Rarely involved in the play. 5/10.

Marchisio –

Looked useful in the first half, helping to keep the ball moving, but rarely attempted the killer pass that Pirlo looks for every-time the ball finds his feet. Had a dismal time after the break. A ghost on the field, muscled out of tackles and headers like an infant. If we are to stick with this formation we need a natural regista to challenge/ back up Pirlo. 5/10.

Pogba-

Still lacking energy but his age and youthful exuberance propel him towards the action whenever possible. Was more consistently involved than his fellow central midfielders. Made a few mistakes, but always trying to make something positive happen. And in the period late on, when we were abysmal in all areas, I was roaring for someone to win the ball in defence, and take it out at their feet rather than hoove it vaguely to a white shirt; the only player capable of this was Paul. Central midfielders must be as involved as possible, and on this score, Pogba had a solid game. Needs a break and some support from more than solely Asamoah. 6/10.

Tevez-

Well marshalled. Wriggled into a few good opportunities but ultimately unlucky in all he attempted. 6/10.

Llorente-

Won his lion share of headers, but was never truly threatening. A wasted opportunity to cement his starting place. Such a shame we didn’t have Osvaldo on the bench…5/10.

The positives were few.

Other than Asamoah’s galactic class goal all I was pleased with was the resoluteness of the defence in the first 45 minutes. Chiellini is 10 times the player Caceres will ever be, when it comes to the CB position. The trio was more secure (until the break) than I have seen them for several games. I suspect our form in general will begin to rise in potency once the starting trio are reunited, fit and match sharp. They were very busy in the second half, in no small part courtesy of the invisibility impression of Marchisio, anaemic output of Vidal and constant errors of Lichsteiner.

I was hoping that our strike force would be ultra fresh, given their lack of international duty. Carlos was spritely and Llorente’s game is largely built on connecting with forward running midfielders, which were simply absent too often in the channels he occupies.

Yet again we have played poorly and won a game exclusively due to individual brilliance rather than a solid team effort. We have yet to escape the slump which began in Chievo.

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