Maurizio Sarri made his coaching debut this season for Juventus after struggling with pneumonia, but his team’s performance and bad luck with injuries may have him questioning why he took the chance to be there. The bad luck started just eight minutes in when Douglas Costa pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury, forcing him to send former Fiorentina player Federico Bernardeschi on instead.
The rest of the half was dominated by the home team. Cristiano Ronaldo sent a free-kick straight into the wall, Blaise Matuidi had a shot from distance, and Sami Khedira sent an effort over the bar, but other than that, Wojciech Szczesny was the standout player for Juventus.
Fiorentina’s best chances included Federico Chiesa charging down the ball in the 15th minute, with Szczesny barely deflecting it over. Or Franck Ribery doing almost the same thing just a minute later when Matthijs De Ligt made another defensive error. Chiesa had a nice shot from distance in the 35th minute that was saved. Then there was the heart-stopping save after a brilliant Ribery cross into Dalbert ended in Szczesny saving Dalbert’s header point blank near the end of the half.
Juventus used their second sub in the 44th minute as Miralem Pjanic was injured, bringing on Rodrigo Bentancur to replace him.
The second half was less eventful, although people will be talking about the 36-year-old Ribery tracking back to tackle Ronaldo in the 60th minute. Juventus were forced into their third sub when Danilo cramped up in the 62nd minute, forcing Juan Cuadrado to come on. That was possibly Sarri’s most fortuitous sub, as Cuadrado brought Juventus to life and gave them more chances, including Ronaldo’s shot from Cuadrado’s brilliant cross in the 64th. Ronaldo also had an attempted bicycle kick late in the game but was unable to get on the scoreboard.
Coach Vincenzo Montella was upset during stoppage time and gave the ref the opportunity to demonstrate a rule change this year. Previously, coaches were either verbally warned or simply sent off. But beginning this year, they will receive cards for dissent, and Montella earned himself a yellow card. Despite his team’s best efforts, the game ended scoreless.
Takeaways from the Match
The game was early and the temperature was hot, over 32°C (90°F), but Juventus had no answers for Fiorentina’s attack. This is the first time Juventus have dropped points so early in the season in years. Whether or not that is telling when it comes to their Scudetto hopes, only time will tell. Speaking of time, Chiellini’s injury was just terrible timing, as De Ligt is clearly struggling to settle into the legendary backline. There is much work for Sarri to do in impressing his style on this talented squad.
Fiorentina were brilliant. New owner and lifelong Juventus fan Rocco Commisso has done very well to hang on to Chiesa as promised and to bring in an experienced player like Ribery. However, today they lacked the ability to finish, and the depth to bring on a gamechanger in a stalemate like this. Their late signing of the undisciplined Kevin-Prince Boateng was likely meant to provide such depth, but his history of poor finishing seems to have followed him to Florence.
Stand Out Players
Chiesa continues to impress, following in his father, Enrico Chiesa’s footsteps, who once played for Fiorentina. It’s difficult to believe he didn’t get on the scoresheet for this one, but the potential is enough to make a neutral tune in to Fiorentina’s matches this season.
Ribery was a brilliant addition, too, and brings some much-needed experience to take this team to the next level. His crosses and chances were world-class, and you have to believe that he will also be a major protagonist for Fiorentina this year.
Juventus had one player with a really good game, and it was Szczesny. He came up big with five great saves and kept his team in the game. It is difficult to see why Buffon would even play this year, barring injury or Coppa Italia matches. Juventus are a force to be reckoned with, but today they showed some weakness from their long-term domination of Serie A.