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Fiorentina 0-1 Juventus


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Kwadwo Asamoah’s first half goal earned Juventus a vital victory in Florence, which sees them extend their lead at the top of the table to 14-points.

ImageVincenzo Montella was without Giuseppe Rossi, and the suspended Borja Valero, while Mario Gomez and Anderson were included in the starting XI.

Antonio Conte introduced Angelo Ogbonna into the back three, and Claudio Marchisio retained his place in midfield as Andrea Pirlo was serving a one-match suspension.

This was a performance that justified Juventus’ title credentials – Conte’s men created the better chances in the first half, and subsequently defended superbly as a unit to preserve a one-goal lead.

Juventus shape

One of the key feats to Juve’s success in matches against the top side’s this season is their pragmatic approach when the opposition sustains possession. Conte’s side relied on their imperious defending in his first title triumph – but considering the side has improved gradually, along with a congested fixture list, there’s no surprise that the champions have adopted this approach.

Conte instructed his men to sit off the Fiorentina centre-backs, while Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal closed down Montella’s full-backs. Likewise, Vidal pressed Alberto Aquilani’s movement in midfield, while Claudio Marchisio closed down Anderson. Fiorentina failed to develop a rhythm in midfield, due to Juventus’ high-press on goal-kicks.

Juventus approached the second half with caution, and preferred to sit deeper in their third and soak up pressure. This was evident in the latter stages when they dropped into two banks of four with Asamoah in line with the centre backs, while Mauricio Isla was introduced to patrol the right flank.

Although Montella’s men dominated possession throughout various periods of the match, his side was unable to unlock Juventus’ solid shape. Fiorentina didn’t create a legitimate goal-scoring opportunity until the second half, which exemplifies the significance of Juve’s work-rate and shape out of possession.

Fiorentina lack a game plan

While Fiorentina sustained majority of possession, their activity in the final third was poor – Montella’s side lacked a game plan. With Pizarro’s threat nullified, and the wide players properly tracked, Mario Gomez lacked service.

Anderson enjoyed a positive opening 15 minutes leading the press with Gomez, and driving forward with his penetrating runs from midfield. The Brazilian, however, was unable to maintain his high energy levels and his impact on the match decreased as time passed.

Distribution from midfield was often played into wide areas, and penetration from Aquilani and Anderson was non-existent, thus justifying Juve’s intent on sitting deep.

Pizarro shackled

Another key factor regarding Juve’s success was the containment of David Pizarro. Fiorentina’s deep-lyer failed to influence in the match, as Conte’s men negated his influence on the match. Vidal, Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente shared turns pressing the Chilean, with Llorente often closing down Pizarro when he aimed to pick up the ball in deep positions.

On two separate occasions, Llorente and Tevez dispossessed the Chilean at the edge of his box, but they were unable to punish the home side. Pizarro completed 32 of his possible 34 passes, but majority of his distribution was sideways within his third.

Conte’s decision to nullify Pizarro’s threat in midfield was successful, as Fiorentina struggled to dictate the tempo of the match in midfield, whilst lacking the tempo required to shift Juve’s back line out of position.


Juventus’ goal was constructed from a moment of brilliance opposed to a well-constructed attack. However, the warning signs were evident prior to Asamoah’s opener as Juve enjoyed freedom in wide areas.

Vidal and Lichtsteiner combined on the right flank, which led to a cross towards the far post, and Norberto Neto pushed away Asamoah’s deflected shot. Subsequently, Asamoah played a ball into Llorente, who cleverly turned his defender and earned a corner.

But in the final minutes of the first half, Asamoah received a pass from Giorgio Chiellini and evaded three Fiorentina challenges before striking a sensational shot past Neto – albeit a slight deflection. Asamoah was the key man in Juve’s attack, and the Ghanaian was involved in several key first half chances.

Second half

Montella turned to his bench in the second half by introducing Matias Fernandez and Rafal Wolski in midfield. The change saw Aquilani become the deepest midfielder, while Fernandez injected creativity in central zones. Still, Fiorentina encountered the same issues in midfield, but Manuel Pasqual became a constant threat on the left flank.

Pasqual delivered a great ball to Gomez in the box but he nodded it wide of the net. Later in the half, he combined with Juan Vargas and his cutback to Wolski led to Ryder Matos directing his header off the cross bar. Vargas dropped into deeper positions to retain possession, while Fernandez drifted into key areas to receive the ball, but Fiorentina couldn’t unlock Juve’s organized back line.

Juve produced a conservative performance in the second half, and their attack was languid. Marchisio was free to string passes together from deep positions but they were often misplaced, while Pogba and Vidal continuously conceded possession. Martin Caceres and Mauricio Isla were introduced in the latter stages of the half to ensure Juve maintained their lead.


A rather dull encounter signified the strengths Juve possess, as they contained Fiorentina’s threat in attack.

Conte’s men enjoyed a successful first half performance, but overall their defensive solidity, and intent on shackling Pizarro was beneficial. 

“We played the first half at a high level, then after the break we dropped back in part due to fatigue after international duty,” Conte said. 

“We allowed Fiorentina only one chance to score, rarely ran risks and held out pretty well.”

While Juve can be ruthless in attack, their defensive performances in key matches have been pivotal towards their success this season. Ultimately, the win practically guarantees a third consecutive Scudetto, along with ending Fiorentina’s Champions League aspirations.

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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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AC Milan 1-1 Napoli

Two first half goals in the span of four minutes, saw Napoli share a point with 10-man Milan, as they remain four points clear of the Rossonieri for second place.


Walter Mazzarri made one change to his side that defeated Genoa last weekend. Juan Zuniga replaced Pablo Armero as a wingback in Mazzarri’s 3-5-2. Edinson Cavani and Goran Pandev played as strikers while Marek Hamsik, Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili and Christian Maggio made up the midfield five.


Massimiliano Allegri made three changes to the side that gave up a two-goal lead against Fiorentina last week. Milan played in their traditional 4-3-3, which saw Giampaolo Pazzini replace the suspended Mario Balotelli, Robinho started over Stephan El Shaarawy and Kevin Constant was chosen over Mattia De Sciglio. The main headline going into this match was whether El Shaarawy was fit or if Allegri didn’t want to risk him getting booked, in which he’d be suspended for next week’s clash against Juventus.


Milan had the ball for majority of the first half, and this forced Napoli to drop into a 5-3-2. Mazzarri’s men stood off and allowed Milan to dictate the match, and sacrificed the wings, so that Milan wouldn’t find space in between the lines. Ignazio Abate was a key outlet throughout the game, as he often got forward, and delivered a few crosses into the box. Boateng drifting centrally, also played a factor, and the Ghanaian midfielder had a few chances to put the Rossonieri ahead in the opening minutes, but was denied by Morgan De Sanctis.

When Milan didn’t have the ball, they’d press the Napoli midfield, and drop into a 4-5-1. The wingers occasionally tracked back to help their defenders, but Boateng did a poor job with his defensive duties, which led to Napoli’s equalizer.


Hamsik and Zuniga combine as Boateng fails to trackback

Boateng came off injured in the 37th minute, and M’Baye Niang’s introduction balanced their 4-5-1 as he tracked phenomenally. Niang’s introduction halted the impact Zuniga and Hamsik were having on the left flank.


Hamsik and Zuniga fail to combine once Niang replaces Boateng

Flamini vs Hamsik

This was the main battle in the first half, which like the score line, ended in a draw. Both men had great opening halves, and they were both involved in the only goals of the match. Flamini made forward runs occasionally, which eventually led to his goal, when he ran past Hamsik and fired a loose ball past De Sanctis. With Flamini moving forward, Hamsik had to be disciplined, and he was pegged back, which affected Napoli’s counter attack if it didn’t initially go through the Slovakian midfielder.

Due to Boateng staying higher up the pitch, Hamsik was able to connect with Zuniga and push forward up the field. There was no surprise that Hamsik was involved with the goal, Zuniga and Hamsik combined yet again as Hamsik ran past Flamini and the Slovakian midfielder played in Pandev who equalized from six yards out. Hamsik and Flamini played decisive roles in the goals, but faded away in the second half.


Flamini/Hamsik’s passes


Hamsik and Flamini ineffective once Napoli equalized


The Italian has been the focal point of Milan’s midfield since arriving at the club, playing as a regista. Montolivo has made an impact in this hardworking Milan midfield, and usually when Montolivo has a good game, the Rossonieri win. Montolivo enjoyed the opening 30 minutes of the match, as Napoli insisted on allowing the midfielder time on the ball.

Montolivo connected with Abate, as the Italian fullback was his main outlet, and this resulted in several crosses played in.


Once Napoli fell behind, Mazzarri encouraged Pandev and a few of his teammates, to get closer to Montolivo. The closer they got to the Italian midfielder the less of an impact he had, and to no surprise, Montolivo completed more passes in his opening 30 minutes, compared to the entire match.


Montolivo’s impact on the match prior/after Milan’s goal

Second half

There was no tactical adjustments at half-time and the game proceeded in the same pattern. Both sides sat off and allowed the centre backs to spread passes across the pitch, as midfielders were being pressed. Milan had most of the possession, but was unable to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities.

Milan was unable to provide penetrating passes or spark any creativity in the final third, and Napoli was happy to soak up pressure, and break on the counter. Both sides struggled in front of goal and it was down to the lack of service to the strikers.


Pazzini failed to get a shot on target, while Abbiati grabbed Cavani’s one chance. Cavani and Pazzini were isolated, as both sides struggled to create a link between the midfield and strikers.



Mazzarri made straight swaps by introducing Lorenzo Insigne for Pandev and Armero for Hamsik. Armero nearly earned Napoli three points, but his injury time shot was saved by Abbiati, while Insigne did a better job linking with the midfield and Cavani.

The match turned on its head in the 72nd minute, when Flamini was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Zuniga. El Shaarawy replaced Robinho, while Emanuele Calaio replaced Maggio. Mazzarri introduced another striker, while Allegri brought on El Shaarawy, who’s capable of tracking back and defending, as well as breaking on the counter.

Milan’s final change was another player swap, as De Sciglio came on for Constant. The changes didn’t have any significance to the match, nor were their any changes of shape. Napoli pressed efficiently when Milan were down to 10 men, forcing them to concede possession easily, but Mazzarri’s men failed to take the lead. Calaio also came close to winning the game in injury time, but his header flew wide of the net.


Two moments of brilliance keep Napoli four points ahead of Milan for the final automatic Champions League spot. It was a dull encounter, which saw both sides create few chances, but leaves Mazzarri the happier of managers.

With Juventus away next week, Milan will be looking to stay on pace with Napoli, as Fiorentina is lurking over their shoulder.

Three Stars

  1. Ignazio Abate
  2. Juan Zuniga
  3. Paolo Cannavaro

Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Match Recaps


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Fiorentina 4-1 Inter Milan

Match in a sentence

Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic both shared two goals each, as Fiorentina blitzed Inter Milan at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and joined the race for the final Champions League spot.


  • Andrea Stramaccioni fielded his side in a 4-3-1-2 with Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio leading the line. Fredy Guarin played behind the strikers and Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Mateo Kovacic and Esteban Cambiasso played in midfield.
  • Vincenzo Montella opted to play in a 4-3-3 with Stevan Jovetic, Adem Ljajic and Juan Cuadrado as the front three. The midfield consisted of Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro and Borja Valero.
  • This match was everything we expected it not to be; frankly it was men against boys from start to finish. Fiorentina took the game to Inter from the start, and they looked dangerous sending balls over the Inter Milan defence for Llajic and Jovetic to run onto.  Jovetic and Ljajic drifted to the left as it looked like they targeted Javier Zanetti, but they caused havoc all over the final third.
  • Inter sat deep in two banks of four, inviting the Fiorentina pressure, and looked to break on the counter. Coincidentally, whenever Inter got into Fiorentina’s half, Fiorentina mirrored Inter’s defensive approach. The difference was Fiorentina defended better than Inter for 90 minutes and the way both sides broke on the counter.
  • Inter lacked cohesion going forward and was unable to break as a unit.  The space between Guarin and the midfield three was too big (due to how deep they sat), and Guarin was unable to link up with Palacio or Cassano.
  • Fiorentina on the other hand broke quick in numbers whenever they won possession and always looked a threat going forward. The other difference was that when they lost possession, they were able to get numerous bodies back into position quickly. Inter left Palacio and Cassano high as it would create 2v2 or 2v3 chances on the break, but Montella’s men were aware of that and with help from Inter being unable to break quickly Palacio and Cassano had a quiet afternoon.
  • Fiorentina controlled possession throughout the game and it took only 13 minutes for the Viola to take the lead. Inter’s backline was unable to deal with a cross that Jovetic flicked on for the unmarked Ljajic, who headed the ball past Samir Handanovic.
  • Another key factor that separated these sides was how both sides pressed one another. Fiorentina pressed the Inter backline and midfield when they picked up the ball in their third of the pitch, whereas Inter decided to apply no pressure to Fiorentina in their third. Fiorentina’s pressure led to Jovetic’s fabulous second goal. Inter tried to play from the back and Aquilani ‘s pressure forced Inter to concede possession to Jovetic, and the Montenegrin striker rifled his shot past Handanovic.

  • Inter Milan chose not to press the Fiorentina players in their half of the field and it allowed Pizarro to dominate the game. The Chilean midfielder was able to drop deep and pick up the ball with no pressure applied, and he was allowed to string passes around the pitch at will. Pizarro conducted the game during his 69 minutes on the pitch, dominating the midfield area. Inter’s midfield was anonymous and the minimal times they had possession in Fiorentina’s half they moved the ball too slow and were unable to create any openings.
  • Inter was fortunate to be down two goals at the half as Handanovic made several vital saves, keeping the Nerazzuri in the match. Stramaccioni made a tactical change in the second half by bringing on Ricky Alvarez for Kovacic. Alvarez moved to the right flank and Guarin dropped to the midfield, as Inter became a 4-3-3.
  • The same narrative occurred in the second half as Fiorentina continued to push forward, but they defended with caution dropping Ljajic deeper when they didn’t have the ball, becoming a 4-5-1.  The second half also highlighted how fragile Juan Jesus and Andrea Ranocchia are as defenders.
  • Jovetic and Ljajic added to their tally in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and both goals were down to defensive errors. Inter were unable to clear their lines and an unmarked Jovetic was played in alone with Handanovic courtesy of a wonderful back heel pass from Aquilani. Jovetic calmly slotted his shot past the Inter goalkeeper to make it 3-0. Then Ljajic curled in a shot from outside the box, in which Ranocchia should’ve closed down the Serbian, but he allowed the Ljajic all the time in the world.
Aquilani's backheel pass to Jovetic GIF. Click it!

Aquilani’s backheel pass to Jovetic GIF. Click it!

  • Cassano scored a great goal towards the end of the game as a consolation, but that was arguably Inter’s worst game of the season. They were flat from the start, the midfield three lacked creativity and their defending as a team and individually was lethargic. With the loss, Inter are now in severe danger of going another season without Champions League football. After starting the season with 10 away wins in all competitions, the Nerazzuri are winless in their last nine. Inter will need a far better performance next Sunday as Stramaccioni’s men will need a result to stay in the hunt for third place, when they take on cross town rivals AC Milan.

  • It was a dominant performance tonight from the Viola and if there was any type of result needed to boost the teams confidence, then it was this one. They outclassed Inter for 90 minutes and now sit two points away from third, playing a game more than Lazio. Fiorentina showed tonight that they’re capable of contending for European football, and if they can build on this result, the thought of it wouldn’t be too farfetched.

Three Stars

1.    David Pizarro

2.    Stevan Jovetic

3.    Adem Ljajic

Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Match Recaps


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