WHAT WE LEARNED: FIORENTINA 1-1 JUVENTUS
Following the bad result from last week, Juventus needed a much welcome win against a Fiore flirting with relegation, we saw the ultimate tale of two halves and one of the least tactically adept performances of the season. When Juventus fans saw the starting lineup vs Fiorentina everyone must have questioned things immediately. A 3-5-2 formation against a team Juventus should most likely beat? The first half proved to be correct and the second half finally brought change. In the end, however, not the substitutes, not the differentiating tactics, nor a moment of Alvaro Morata's brilliance could get Juve more than a draw. This was a fair result given the performance. Sadly this has become a far too often result, but this team has little if anything more to give at the moment.
The game was not won or lost in the midfield, they did nothing to create, nothing to stop Ribery and Amrabat from running circles around them, they also didn’t make massive mistakes barring one. An absolute lack of situational awareness by Rabiot led to Fiorentina’s lone goal. How his hand was that high like a basketball player going up to the rim we don't know. It was foolish, we all know you simply can’t do that. The stale midfield performance also continued with Ramsey and Bentancour. Their passing did nothing, Ramsey missed a clear chance and it looked at times like they were onlookers as the defenders decided to play long ball all throughout the first half with the attackers. It's not all their fault, again the tactical setup for this game meant that the team sat back way deeper than usual. In reality, though we did look like the likes of Burnley in the first half, which is why Fiorentina was able to have so many chances.
This game provided yet another example sadly in the failed Pirlo experiment. While we will forever be indebted to Pirlo for his phenomenal time as a player for us, it is clear he is over his head with regards to being the coach of Juventus. This of course is not all through the fault of his own, he was unfortunately placed in this awkward position. The pattern of formations varying from week to week and not adapting to the opponent has been one of the major faults in his performance as a coach. If the team is not set up right from the beginning, it gives a disadvantage against anybody who plays us. Fiorentina should be beaten by Juventus any day, however, when the team is completely invisible for an entire half, this team could drop points against anybody. Today the best player on the pitch for us was probably Szczesny, not good for a team that aspires to be at the top. In reality, it should be why this team isn’t better adapted to playing this formation rather than why it is being used in the first place. Again this formation has been used for years at the club, but all we saw in the first half was an overload of the long ball after long ball that encouraged the team to sit back against a team they could easily beat. No wonder Franck Ribery looked like the Bayern Munich version of himself, he had free roam all around the pitch, as did Amrabaat.
While the first half should be completely thrown out as a dismal, chaotic trainwreck, the second half brought us at least a glimmer of hope. Hope because it shows that the team is capable of resetting and changing the game completely after halftime. For once, the substitutions paid off a bit, even if it only came in one goal, but considering the first half, it is better than nothing. Like a strike of lightning, after a great ball over the top Morata got the ball cut inside and delivered a beautifully curled left-foot strike to the far top corner. One of if not Morata’s best goals in a Juventus kit. Despite his size, his dribbling when executed comes off smoothly for a big man. Morata and Kulusevski replaced Dybala’s isolated performance up top and actually made a difference in the second half. The second half provided multiple opportunities, including almost a Ronaldo header that just missed his head. As I have said multiple times, I believe Kulusevski should be coming off the bench, this game showed the value for his minutes and he looked more engaged and creative, in contrast to his other performances when he has started. The second half at least provided control for Juve, a lot of ball possession, even if it came with a continual lack of clear chances.
While a 1-1 result does nothing to change the increasingly downward trend of this squad, at least AC Milan did lose today as of this writing. However, the race for Europe is now more crowded than ever before, Juve, Atalanta, Milan, Napoli, and even Lazio all have European prospects. I hate to apply dependency on one player, but this team is probably hoping and praying for Chiesa to come back as soon as possible from his injury. There are some season-defining games upcoming in what is to be a hectic month of May for Juve. Let's hope this is the last we see of a first half as we witnessed vs Fiorentina.