Juventus 2-1 Fiorentina
Scorers: Khedira 37 (J), Kalinic 70 (F), Higuain 74 (J)
Serie A Week 1 – Saturday 20th August – 19:45 GMT – Juventus Stadium
Gonzalo Higuain scored on his Juventus debut to earn the Bianconeri their first 3 points of 2016/17 season.
Despite the new additions to the squad, the millions spent reinforcing the team and the general feeling that Juve would dominate Serie A this season, the game against Fiorentina gave me cause for concern. Granted, it was only a small concern, rooted in the idea that so much change, especially in midfield, would give La Viola the opportunities to push through the middle of the pitch where the returning Kwadwo Asamoah and the inexperienced Mario Lemina might struggle. Ten minutes into the match, I realised how foolish those concerns were.
Juve may have been without the injured Miralem Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio, but it rarely felt as though we were lacking anything in the centre of the pitch – A bold statement, but one that i’m sure those who watched the match will agree with. Sami Khedira, a truly understated genius of a player, had Juve’s first effort after just 4 minutes when he could and probably should have made more of an error from Fiorentina keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu. Moments later, there was a half-hearted appeal for handball but it was clear Davide Astori didn’t mean to handle the ball.
Juve were dominant and confident, controlling the tempo and quickly pushing back a Fiorentina side that thought they may have some joy pressing the Juve back line. Not tonight Sousa. Dani Alves looked a seasoned Serie A veteran, striding past Marcos Alonso at every opportunity, linking superbly with Paulo Dybala and generally being a thorn in the side of La Viola, cutting inside and out while fighting for every ball with his typical gusto.
More surprising was the ease with which Giorgio Chiellini was able to push forward from defence; Seldom troubled by the Fiorentina midfield, he got into the opponents half at every opportunity, leaving Leonardo Bonucci to mop-up on the few occasions the visitors got close to the Juve goal. It was only fitting that from one of these forays into opposition territory that the Kaiser was able to fire over a deliciously accurate cross for Sami Khedira to head home – A bullet of a header, 1-0 (You can see the goal further down the page).
Juve were in control – Mario Lemina looked as confident on the ball as when I saw him play his first few games for Juve. He surprised me then and he surprised me last night, picking the ball away from the Badelj and Vecino with ease, recycling play, venturing forward and displaying a great range of passing. He had big shoes to fill an it was no easy feat to play in front of the defence with such confidence.
Despite the dominant displays from both his midfield teammates, it was Kwadwo Asmoah who stole the night. Missing much of last season with injury, the Ghanaian made up for lost time, returning to the left of the midfield three…..and only after the 95 mins were up did i realise that not once during the game had I thought of that French lad who used to play for us. I’m not normally one for letting the stats do the talking, especially as they often fail to give a true account of a players performance, however these two graphics from Squawka illustrating Asamoah’s performance as the game went on and the 91% of passes he completed give an idea of how instrumental he was in the victory. He pressed and harried, he broke up attacks, he anticipated passes, he pushed forward into the box and it was his pass for Khedira that opened up the Fiorentina defence for Juve’s winner.
Lest I get carried away and make it sound like a one-sided affair, there were a few negatives, namely Alex Sandro. His attacking game wasn’t up to its usually high standard, but it was in defence where he really showed poor judgement, allowing Tello to win a corner and then letting Kalinic get away from him to convert Fiorentina’s only effort on goal.
It was the only real low point of the game, largely due to Juve stepping off, sitting back, giving Fiorentina the ball and inviting pressure – Please, let’s not do this again.
A goal apiece, deadlocked….. What next? Cometh the hour, cometh the (€90m) man. Enter Gonzalo Higuain, strolling onto the pitch, unencumbered by his price-tag (or the unfair headlines about his weight). The former Napoli forward made an almost immediate impact, creating space in the Fiorentina box, pulling players with him, making intelligent runs between the defenders. Sure enough, the pressure paid off – Asamoah recieved the ball with plenty of space, passed in the direction of Higuain – Rather than try and take the ball with his first touch, Pipita cleverly continues his run, taking the defender with him, and freeing space for Khedira to have an effort on goal. In that kind of position and with only the keeper to beat, a goal looks certain…..but Pipita lingers….sees the shot saved and accelerates past Astori to fire home from a tight angle – And all this within the space of 9 mins of being on the pitch. A truly superb debut made all the more special by a winning goal.
With the result assured, Allegri introduced Patrice Evra and Hernanes to firm up the back line and cruise to a well-deserved 3 points and a first win of the 2016/17 campaign. Credit to the boss who went with the more attacking Alves and Sandro on the flanks in an effort to create from wide as well as subbing on Higuain at exactly the right moment.
A few brief mentions – Mandzukic looked a little ill at ease, working in isolation in the box with only Khedira to provide some height and muscle from midfield, while Dybala dropped deep and switched from left to right. The defence looked untroubled for most of the match. Bonucci did what only he can do, pinging some great crosses out from defence, trying to create from the back. Barzagli picked up a rather stupid, but entirely warranted booking for a clumsy challenge.
A confident victory to begin a tough season – Lazio, Inter and Sassuolo await us in the weeks ahead, as well as the Champions League draw on Thursday…..however we have picked up exactly where we left off last season, and that gives me hope for the year ahead. The team looks happy together, the players look as much of a family as they have done for the last 5 seasons, despite the many departures this summer. We can expect a new midfielder to arrive soon, along with the returning Juan Cuadrado who will offer that little something extra. Exciting times ahead. Fino Alla Fine, Forza Juve !!!
Man of the Match: Vote below
Flop of the Match: N/A
Pass Accuracy: 88%
Shots on Target: 4
Total Shots: 19
Ball Possession: 54%
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Dani Alves, Khedira (Hernanes 87), Lemina, Asamoah, Alex Sandro; Dybala (Evra 84), Mandzukic (Higuain 66)
Fiorentina: Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Astori, Alonso; Vecino, Badelj (Carlos Sanchez 65), Chiesa (Tello 46), Bernardeschi; Ilicic (Rossi 79); Kalinic
Post Match Comments:
Higuain: “I am very happy for my debut, for the victory and the goal. We must continue like this. It was very important to start with a win. We worked hard and the victory was deserved. I hope to repay the affection of the fans with many goals. I want to win as many titles as possible, but we’re just at the beginning. I dedicate the goal to everyone who had faith in me.”
Allegri: “The team played a very good first half, especially as we’re not in optimal form yet. I think we should’ve scored more than two goals, as Fiorentina only created one real chance. From a possible counter-attack for us, Alex Sandro lost the ball and we conceded on the corner. There was some fatigue, especially as Khedira had only been training for a couple of weeks. He was decisive in the two situations by running into space.When we had the game in hand, we didn’t hold the ball as well as we should’ve done. We needed to keep the pressure on and force them to defend around their own penalty area, which we didn’t do.”
Juventus 1 – 0 Fiorentina [Khedira]
Juventus 2 – 1 Fiorentina [Higuain]
So glad to see Asamoah being MOTM, even though I voted for Khedira.
So weird to see Higuaín in a Juve banner, too.. like, I knew it and my heart knew it but I still didn’t expect it. Does it make sense? It’s still weird.
Voted Khedira too. If Higuain had buried that second chance, my vote would have been for him.
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It’s funny how our midfield was doubted, but the top 3 for motm are our starting midfielders
Yeah that’s true, I think 1 creative midfielder and 1 defensive minded midfielder would help out, but we didn’t play with pjanic today so hopefully when he debuts we will see how this works out
Playing against a very average side though…. The fact they were MOTM contenders maybe just highlights the first game rustiness in front of goal. The gulf in class between Juve and Fiorentina is far far greater than a 2-1 scoreline.
Agreed, DB. Sousa’s outfit were lethargic, fearful and lacking enterprise. I am not at all taken away with a wave of shock and awe at our showing. And the major grumble is how we sat back on a 1-0 lead. Its something that we need to keep an eye upon, as I am sure Allegri will demand, if the required momentum does not manifest.
On another note, its great to have MOTD back. No real surprises to date, other than Hull’s heroics. As seemed the most likely case, the two Manchester sides seem favourites. Chelsea are winning games and looking a markedly more determined side than last year but clearly they are in major transition and it will come down to how quickly Conte can work out how to get the best from the current and soon to be augmented squad. I cannot help but feel support for Conte and Alessio!
City look the most settled squad and their showing of late are machine like and immensely powerful. If they can keep De Bruyne and Aguero fit, they could win big this year, on all counts.And I have been pleasantly surprised by the humility and smiles of Guardiola, who is often asserted as a demonic presence in the game, broody and dark. He comes across – thus far – as polite, respectful and humble.
As for my own english side, the mighty Gills began strongly in their first 3 matches, then we got crunched 5-0 at Scunthorpe! Far from ideal, but at least they keep me guessing. Its a very different feeling waking up to instantly check my phone for Gills and Juve. The latter I expect always to win, the former…I never have any idea what to expect.
I am worried that we have not enough spark in the middle of the pitch until CM returns and we have Pjanic fully pulling the strings. Not sure why he was not playing yesterday?
As for the EPL, it’s really weird but this side of the pond after all the Pogba goings on and the new management trio at the big three clubs it’s been a bit of a low key start to the season. Maybe it’s a hangover from the Leicester victory last season, or Englands woeful Euro’s or just the the fact that most of the games have been a bit middling but there has not been the excitement or the usual OTT interest in the matches as previous years from what I can sense. Weird, can’t really explain it – maybe now the olympics is over the interest will pick up. Agreed on Pep, but his treatment of Joe Hart isn’t doing him any favours at the moment. Joe Hart, maybe worth a punt for a club looking for a new keeper in the next year or two 😉 has his off days but can be great too.
I have lost my will to live with Forest. My head says don’t bother paying any attention to them now, just concentrate on Juve, but of course my heart sings another tune. But a protracted club sale to a dodgy greek bloke now that Fawaz Al-Hasawi has lost interest in the club, the stadium capacity (temporarily) reduced to 0 due to safety forms not having been completed and rumours that our best two players will be leaving before the transfer deadline – it’s all too much on top of years of other debacle. Maybe when things are at their lowest is when the biggest surprises come…. I can only hope.
I wouldn’t say that we wont miss Pogba, for his offensive movements and flair and long range shooting are all superior to Asamoah, who I am using for comparison for he appears the option for the LCM spot. I do however believe that our potency may be improved more than reduced. Asamoah works much harder, his concentration, covering, stamina and tackling are all of a much stronger level.
I think Pogba will be superb in the premier league, for the defences are far weaker and less well organised. Less time on the ball, but its outweighed by the absence of top drawer defenders.
Not sure on Matuidi, for how much of an upgrade on Asamoah is up for debate. I quite like Witsel…seems a player potentially more capable of dictating the tempo of a game from deep, which is something we lack. Pjanic could morph into that role but it is not his natural forte when placed deep and could be a waste of his expert and highly intelligent passing and shooting higher up the field.
Shame to hear of the Forest debacle, but the support has always been there. Last I saw of them live was Glen Helder’s debut, many moons ago…
I dont knw where to begin…
This team is stacked from top to bottom.
No man of the match for me. Everyone was superb…
The presence of our defence is superb. Three leaders in front of the God of Torino. Bonucci is SHARP. how quick he can pick out a long forward ball is inhumane. Ive never seen that in my years as a footballing fan. Barzagli too is a whole different presence. I remeber him as a humble leader, but today he looked a determined warrior added with his usual demeanor. Chiellini is monsterous as ever with added technical ability. Never expected him to be capable of a cross as quality as his assist today. That 6th sense like instict to make his self available at such a high position of the pitch shouldnt go unnotice as well. Our BBC backline has become the most Dynamic defenisive line in the world.
The Brazilian flanks added so much south american flavor to our play. Sandro was class, but Alves s debut takes center stage. His movement off the ball created so much space all around. His partnership with former rival Khedira and international rival Dybala will create goals in the abundance.
Asamoah, Lemina and Khedira martialed the midfield with authority. Asamoah looks 100%. He looks like the midfielder that was with us before the plague of injuries. Lemina held the center role greatly. I dont remember the last time a second choice player performed as well as Lemina did today. The depth of our sqaud is DEEP. Khedira with an important first goal and he continues to show why he was part of a world class nation like germany. Incredibly timed runs all around the pitch and Intelligent passing.
Dybala doesnt look like a 22- 21 year old. Hes a man on the pitch. He and Alves will create a partnership greater than that of what Alves had with Messi. Im that confident. Dybala s instinct to shoot is there. His practice just needs to improve and we ll have a banger at our hands. I also love the way he knows when to give those one touch passes. Mandzukic looked like the presence of Higuain at the lockeroom could be getting to him.
I love this team. Spectucalr game opening. I can see Allegris master piece at works
I share your excitement and agree with almost everything… I don’t think Mandzo is intimidated one bit. He was a beast today, as always, and I noticed a difference in the game when he was subbed off. If Mario and Higuaín can figure out how to coexist on the pitch (for technical reasons, not personal) I think they’d be a force to be reckoned with.
Maybe i just saw him at all the wrong times haha
We have too many options. I can definitely see a mandzu and higuain partnership working out extremely well.
Can it? They are both finishers.
Different type of finishers tho. Mandzikic is a worker and is strongly able to give great lays off into space, while despite Higuain is not famous for, but is more than capable to make strong dribbles and set up his team mates with intelligent passes. Have those two style work in harmony and we ll have a very unorthadox, yet effective form of attack at our disposal
Idk.. It seemed like the cameras always focused on him when he looked upset to me :p i also have high expectations of him and expect him to tackle at least 3 players per game haha but yes, hes more a reserved type personality.
Luckily it for you, it doesnt seem like mandzu is leaving anytime soon :p
Dear God of football,
Please keep Khedira injury-free for us this season. Thats all I ask. He was decisive in every game he played in last season. One of the most underrated players in European football.
fingers crossed dude
We did not manage to step out of first or second gear, other than in the first 15 minutes. I was writing of the game and as it remains fresh in mind, I can mention that Khedira and Dybala barely touched the ball in the second half, Lemina’s passing had improved, and Higuain made zero impact other than the all important, rather fortunate yet well taken goal.
I remain very much unconvinced by Lemina as a regista. Alves was better than expected. Dybala was quiet. Asamoah is a welcome addition to our options though often slows the play down, as he tends to consider his next move when finding the ball at his feet in the offensive phase.
We were facing a very poor Fiorentina. They look mid table, at best…and as for our own phalanx? Well…we did enough. Nothing more, nothing less. Hardly inspiring by any measure, yet better than this stage last term, and we have money to plunder on a CM which I very much feel we need, and new players to introduce to the squad, gradually.
The second half was woefully absent of grit and spirit and technical cohesion, yet 3 points in the bad. No complaints.
look where dybala usually picked up the ball, he played more like CAM , he was everywhere, we need pjanic asap to ease up dybala
He played the exact same role last season. More often found moving between deep CM and RM and the offensive lines. Yet this makes use of his dribbling and passing, and he still manages to find himself in goal scoring positions.
Problem against Florence was that our midfield appeared very disjointed. We were much stronger than our opponents all over the pitch, and looked splendid for the opening 15 minutes, but then we became rather flat. Which is to be expected at this stage, as our mercato is not yet complete, new players need time to adjust as does Allegri to find their best roles as part of the team.
At this stage of proceedings all that matters is picking up points, gaining confidence, momentum and hopefully seeing the hunger than can be lost when success becomes common-place.
An average start to the league campaign…
I agree with what you say about the second half. Game play slowed down a little after the first goal and we were punished for it.
I saw many positives out of this game. Yes Dybala didnt get on the ball as much as one would like to, but this is a different to the ones we ve been used to for half a decade. This team is STOCKED. We have 11 dynamic players on the pitch. Dybala wont be our only goal threatening players. We can expect all our of midfielders looking at goal instead of them looking to a forward to provide the goals. Take Khediras goal for example and chiellini being the one to provide the assist. Our least technically gifted Cb providing an assist. And it goes vice versa, like everyone is avle to provide an attacking dynamic, everyone is expected to provide a defensive one.
This is a team through and through. I dint expect anyone to hold the spotlight on their own. We dont have only 4 match defining players, but 11
I’d agree that we have strengthened the squad significantly. Nobody looked poor, or out of place and there were some very promising signs early doors.
With Inter and Naples stuttering, we have time to settle. Will have to see what Spalletti has achieved over the Summer, for Roma could turn out the major rivals for the league title.
Asamoah looks every inch the player he was before his injury woes and Lemina was careful and competent. Other than which Alves deserves some praise and his output in the final third is definitely going to help matters, yet what happens when Cuadrado comes in? Possibly a 4-3-3, yet Dybala must play. Higuain must surely also move towards a starting berth.
Allegri is spoilt for choice and he really has a task on his hand in swiftly working out what he feels is to get the very best of the collective. Whilst doing so, it makes sense to stick with the 3-5-2, tinker with the midfield and attack slowly, yet there will clearly be a major difference with Higuain who plays facing the goal, and Mandzukic who plays with his back to goal (mainly). Perhaps the biggest test of the manager this season is to work out how to accommodate the Argentine and Pjanic. Their quality is not questionable, but how we adjust or adjust them is.
Haha great to see so many different opinions on the players’ performances of last night.
In general I think we played okay. We started huge, but overall it was just good. Not exceptional and not poor either.
Just the start of beautiful things to come. Sandro was unfortunate, Alves links nicely with Dybala, Lemina was a bit too trigger happy for me and I was so damn happy to see Asamoah beasting the midfield again.
Fantastic to have Higuain start so well.
I know exactly what you mean, I have the same with Alves.. Found myself saying ” Cmon Alves, keep going! “And then thinking, did i really just support Alves?
The way things are going, they’ll win us over by the end of the year, I’m sure.
Pretty sure it wont even take half that long in my case xp
the question for me is- why was sandro covering kalinic? like really? we have 3 towers at back and we cover kalinic with sandro? sorry but this is pure tactical error from our back 3.
I’m laughing at how bad inter is. What a bunch of effin losers.
Phah, Inter lost to chievo! And Napoli salvaged a draw after falling two goals behind against Pescara XD
2-3 points ahead of 2 rivals, equal with the other…A decent start to the campaign. Tough test in Rome next weekend, which will offer us a more telling measure of our current value.
Yes indeed, it could not have been much better. We beat an important rival and both of Inter and Napoli dropped points to minor teams. A bit early for calculating leads perhaps, but so what if we do eh?
Looking at how a chaotic Lazio almost threw a 2-0 lead against Atalanta, I fancy our chances next week.
Juve still has some points to work on, but with time will only get better!
By far I was most impressed with Khedira and Lemina. Sami is world class when healthy and mario just needs t oget some regular playing time under his belt. I’ve said it from the day we got him from Marseille, this kid will be a revelation. He played a great game and has one hell of a shot too, two volley’s I believe. Khedira needs no mention as he is just outstanding, probably one of the most intelligent players we’ve had in the last decade. Mandzukic was rather disappointing, Higguain scored but I need more time to evaluate him in our team. Cant wait untill Pjanic debut’s, already ordered the Blue and white away jersey……….$128 -________________-, there goes 2 weeks of drinking.
we need james rodriguez t midfield lacks creativity
we need CM, james is not what we need plus his crazy price tag, nah, thanx, i would go for yuri tielemens, young prospect for fair price 15-20m is a steal
no james can play as mezalla and tielsman is not cl starting material yet
mezalla? in english mate ?