TThere have been times in Juventus recent history when losing six points in a month could have been considered a streak of bad form. On Tuesday, they saw that number disappear in less than six hours.
First came the news that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had overturned the Serie A sports court’s decision to award Juventus a 3-0 victory for its unplayed match against Naples in October. the Parthenopei They did not show up for that match in Turin after two members of their first team, and one more staff member, tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the protocol agreed between the Italian Football Federation and the scientific committee of the national government, the match should have moved on. Napoli, however, insisted that local health authorities had banned them from traveling. Initial appeals to the league and federation were rejected, but CONI upheld its claim.
Juventus’ official position was one of indifference. “We have always been oblivious to this matter,” insisted the club’s football director, Fabio Paratici, after confirming CONI’s decision. “When they tell us to play, we will play. That said, we were ready in October. “
At least those “lost” points can be recovered. Those who got away later in the night are gone forever. Juventus hosted Fiorentina at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday in a game that should have provided a chance to end 2020 on a winning note.
the BianconeriDespite mixed performances and some disappointing draws, he was still undefeated in Serie A with Andrea Pirlo. His opponents hadn’t won a game for two months. Fiorentina made a nostalgic appointment of their own in November, bringing back Cesare Prandelli as coach after a decade apart, but had managed to collect just three points in his first six games in charge.
This, in addition, was a match that Juventus always won. Fiorentina fans love to hate the ‘Old Lady’, but her team hadn’t tasted victory in Turin since 2008, during Prandelli’s last stage at the helm. Perhaps, in hindsight, we should have given more weight to that detail. Prandelli’s most recent victory as Serie A coach, in Genoa in 2019, was also against Juventus.
He did something right in his preparations on Tuesday. At Pirlo’s pre-match press conference, the Juventus coach highlighted the physical prowess of Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic and the enduring class of Franck Ribéry, saying his team would have to “be on the lookout for those two in particular” . Despite the extra attention, it was those precise players who combined for the opening goal in just the third minute.
Prandelli had ordered Ribéry to fall as deep as he believed necessary to reach the ball, nominally lining up in a No. 10 role but operating more as a forward. film director – retreat and draw in defenders with him to make room for Vlahovic ahead. The Frenchman’s vision made the ruse work. It only took a glance before he released his teammate with a 60-yard pass that split Juventus’s center halves.
The defense should have been better. Leonardo Bonucci was out of step with Matthijs De Ligt, playing Vlahovic on the outside. The forward ran and passed the ball over Wojciech Szczesny. Bonucci and the rest of the Juventus defense made many more mistakes.
In the 18th minute, Juan Cuadrado slammed into Gaetano Castrovilli with heels so high they nearly collided with his opponent’s knee. Referee Federico La Penna initially showed a yellow card, but corrected it to red after a VAR review.
It’s never easy to recover from losing a man and a goal so early in a game. Pirlo had already been forced to adjust his game plan at the last minute after the CONI verdict. Adrien Rabiot was supposed to be in the starting eleven on Tuesday, but canceling the win over Napoli also meant restoring a suspension from a game the player had allegedly served in that game.
Cuadrado’s expulsion meant that Pirlo now also had to remove Aaron Ramsey from his midfield, sending Danilo to shore up the defense. The Welshman kicked a bottle of frustration as he left the field, although it was the manager’s decision to send Federico Bernardeschi for Álvaro Morata at halftime, rather than Dejan Kulusevski, prompting fans to express their frustration on social media.
With different refereeing decisions in the second half, Juventus could still have changed the game. Fiorentina should have dropped to 10 men in the 50th minute, Borja Valero was late to a challenge moments after receiving a yellow card.
Juventus then had the first of two strong penalty appeals, as Cristiano Ronaldo fell to a challenge from Castrovilli. The drop was exaggerated, but the contact seemed clear, the only ambiguity was whether a fraction took place outside the box.
An Alex Sandro own goal doubled Fiorentina’s lead before Bernardeschi appeared to be fouled in the area by goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski, who raised an elbow to prevent the Juventus player from reaching a fumble. Juventus manager Pavel Nedved was seen storming out of the stands in fury when La Penna once again declined to award a penalty.
Rather than find a way back to the game, Juventus completed their humiliation with a third goal from Fiorentina. It is not the first time that Bonucci has been dispossessed on the brink of his own box, compounding the error by stepping out of position in an attempt to amend it. Castrovilli spread the ball down the left, Cristiano Biraghi crossed and former Juventus player Martín Cáceres swept on the goal.
Latest Serie A results
Tuesday December 22
Crotone 2-1 Parma
Juventus 0-3 Fiorentina
Sunday December 20
Turin 1-1 Bologna
Benevento 2-0 Genoa
Cagliari 1-1 Udinese
Inter Milan 2-1 Spezia
Sassuolo 1-2 AC Milan
Atalanta 4-1 Rome
Lazio 2-0 Naples
After being taken away a 3-0 win earlier in the day, Juventus now savored defeat by the same margin. It was the first time they had conceded three goals in a league game at home since Allianz Stadium opened in 2011.
Could it also become the first season since then that they fail to lift the Serie A title? They will finish this year 10 points behind first place if Milan beat Lazio on Wednesday night. For now, they sit in third place, on the same level as Roma and Napoli, whom the CONI verdict reversed an additional deduction of one point.
Pirlo sought to keep things in perspective, highlighting refereeing errors and stressing that “an ugly night like this can happen,” but his suggestion that Milan or Inter could be favorites for the Scudetto felt like a comment that his predecessor, Maurizio Sarri , would have been crucified by: held up as evidence of a lack of the necessary “winning mentality”. Also, was this match really unique for a Juventus team that is now 11 points worse than at the corresponding point last year?
In the visiting team’s dressing room there was only joy. “I’m happy because I asked the team for courage and that’s what the guys gave me,” said Prandelli. “To win and fight fear you have to be bold. If you are afraid, sooner or later they will catch you. “
Will Milan and Inter hear the echo of those words, as they seek to take advantage of their advantage at the top of the table? Both have clashes with Juventus to look forward to in January. The champions’ six-point drop on Tuesday has provided them an unexpected opportunity to build a buffer in the meantime.
• Nicky will post his talking points in the comment section on Thursday, when this round of Serie A matches is complete.
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