Fiorentina vs. Juventus (4-2): 6 Things We Learned
An overcast day in Florence played host to the game of the day in Serie A.
The Viola faithful created a raucous atmosphere at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, as they hosted their most bitter of rivals.
Juventus have not been able to find their best form for the majority of the season, but with just two points dropped all season, the results have been excellent for Antonio Conte thus far.
Vincenzo Montella has needed to struggle through a series of injuries, but he was able to put out a team that was pretty close to resembling the best that Fiorentina can offer, minus, of course, star striker Mario Gomez.
A small pocket of Juventini were making most of the noise after Nicola Rizzoli awarded the Bianconeri a penalty, which was somewhat controversial.
Carlos Tevez put the visitors ahead, before a calamitous mistake from Juan Cuadrado gifted Paul Pogba an easy opportunity to make it 2-0.
Game over, surely.
But the Viola rallied, and despite an enormous amount of pressure mounting on the champions, it took a silly challenge from Kwadwo Asamoah to gift the hosts a way back into the game.
Giuseppe Rossi cleanly struck the penalty and the home supporters started to believe.
What unfolded next was pure craziness and one of the most electrifying periods of football you will ever see.
Rossi made it 2-2 with an angled drive that Gianluigi Buffon might have done better to push around the post, before Joaquin sent the Viola faithful into raptures.
The Spaniard buried an easy chance after Borja Valero found him unmarked on the right.
The game was sealed when Cuadrado dashed clear and slid Rossi in for his hat trick to end what has to be one of the best games in European football this season.
Here are six things we learned.
Hats off to Fiorentina.All credit to Montella, Rossi and that entire team.Fantastic spirit, never gave up, Incredible, absolutely incredible— Juvefc / Rav / راﭪ (@juvefcdotcom) October 20, 2013
Nicola Rizzoli Almost Spoiled Another Big Game
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Nicola Rizzoli is one of Italy's most experienced officials and rated highly by UEFA's refereeing commission.
But Fiorentina against Juventus was another example of how Rizzoli sometimes struggles to manage certain matches and how he is unable to use a different style of refereeing depending on the type of match he is officiating.
Rizzoli awarded nine yellow cards, four of which came out in the opening 37 minutes, which could have ruined the game as a spectacle.
Aside from Alberto Aquilani's wild challenge on Leonardo Bonucci, those yellow cards in the first half could have been avoided.
As a result of his card-happy officiating, Rizzoli stunted the game somewhat, spoiling the flow.
It was no surprise that the game was at its most exhilarating when no cards were shown by the referee for a period of about 20 minutes in the second half.
Having taken charge of the 2013 Champions League final, Rizzoli should know that these adrenaline-fueled encounters must be handled with more care.
Both penalty decisions were somewhat debatable as well, rounding off a poor game for the 42-year-old.
Rossi, If Fit, Must Go to the World Cup
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Giuseppe Rossi put on a masterclass against Juventus to carry the Viola to an historic 4-2 victory.
After two serious injuries, it appeared as if Rossi would never quite fulfill his potential, but after completing his rehabilitation upon signing for Fiorentina in January, the 26-year-old is back to his very best.
Mario Balotelli is assured of a place, while Pablo Osvaldo is almost guaranteed to go to the World Cup too.
But Rossi should now be considered a mere formality to be part of Cesare Prandelli's squad.
Eight goals in nine league appearances this season put Rossi in the conversation for the best strikers in Europe, not just Italy.
Now the question should be whether Prandelli should integrate Pepito into the starting lineup.
HAT-TRICK: Giuseppe Rossi nets three in 14 minutes. Superb finishing. pic.twitter.com/nfw6JLDZtS— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 20, 2013
Pizarro Outperformed Pirlo in the Battle of the Registas
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David Pizarro outshone Andrea Pirlo as the best regista on the pitch on Sunday.
The Chilean has returned to his very best form since linking up with the Viola.
Pirlo was rushed and harried when in possession, while his opposite number was able to dictate the tempo of the game and release Fiorentina's onrushing runners at the right moments to open up the Old Lady.
PASS MAP: David Pizarro, unsung hero for Fiorentina. Kept the ball very well today. 52/56 passes made (93%). pic.twitter.com/LRAaJyHVcH— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 20, 2013
Pizarro's accuracy in possession was a key reason why Fiorentina were able to sustain such relentless pressure in the second half. When you consider that the 34-year-old attempts difficult-to-execute passes, he runs Rossi close for man of the match.
Juve Continue to Have a Problem on the Left Side of Midfield
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Juve's 3-5-2 formation has been an excellent way to accommodate three super centre-midfielders, but there has never been a natural fit on the left side of the midfield.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is perfectly suited to the right side, both in an attacking sense, as well as defending.
While Kwadwo Asamoah is streaky with his form and while he can attack with greater penetration than his Swiss teammate on the opposite flank, his defending is always under scrutiny.
Paolo De Ceglie is better suited to this wide role, but it is probable that his quality is not up to the required level.
With the 3-5-2 system yet to be proven on the European stage, perhaps Conte should look to tweak the set-up moving forward.
A diamond formation or a Christmas tree system could allow Conte to include all four of his stellar centre-midfielders: Andre Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.
Ironically, Asamoah would be better suited to a central role, but given the competition, he is unlikely to even be considered there.
With Real Madrid coming up, Angel Di Maria's freedom on the right of Real Madrid's team will pose an even greater threat than Joaquin, who ripped the 24-year-old to pieces.
Dont know how many times Ive said it but Asamoah has done nothing but frustrate me all season. Conte has done nothing to assess the LM issue— Patrick Gullaci (@pg2216) October 20, 2013
Juve Might Need to Compromise Either Serie A or the Champions League
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Juve now need to reassess their targets for the season after falling to their first defeat of the season.
With five points dropped, it is hardly an awful start to the season, but with Napoli level on points and Roma five points clear, the scudetto is not going to be the formality it appeared prior to the season.
After a poor start to their Champions League campaign with just two points from two games and back-to-back encounters with Real Madrid next, the Bianconeri have some testing times ahead.
The squad is suddenly being tested, with Mauricio Isla and Simone Padoin unable to sufficiently cover the right flank now that Stephan Lichtsteiner is injured.
Fernando Llorente continues to struggle to settle, while Carlos Tevez is also open to criticism, given his difficulty in striking up a partnership in attack,.
Paul Pogba's emergence is also causing friction in the ranks with the inability to play the Frenchman and the holy trinity of centre-midfielders who have been pivotal in delivering back-to-back scudetti.
It seems that Juve are not capable of challenging on two fronts this season, so it will be fascinating to see which is compromised in the next few weeks as the final four Champions League group matches are completed.
Montella Proving to Be a Genius at Producing Attractive Football
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Vincenzo Montella is fast becoming the most innovative manager in Italian football, as the Fiorentina manager continues to work wonders in Florence.
He has a trio of technically gifted passing midfielders at the heart of the Viola team, as well as the versatility to add in a more destructive force in Massimo Ambrosini.
After the former Milan midfielder pulled up injured, Montella was not afraid to compromise the original tactical plan, putting on Mati Fernandez to increase the Viola's cutting edge in the final third.
Juan Cuadrado was struggling to penetrate from the right flank, especially with Manuel Pasqual's lack of ambition to pose a question to Simone Padoin.
With Fiorentina needing to chase the game, Montella decided to switch Cuadrado over to the left to play as an inverted winger, bringing on Joaquin to provide a duel threat in the wide areas of the final third.
What ensued was one of the most devastating spells of attacking football there has been all season in Serie A.
With Mario Gomez to return, potentially pushing Montella to explore Rossi's versatility in being able to drop deep or play from the wide areas, Fiorentina's commitment to attacking football will continue.
With the possibility that Fiorentina could break into the top three this season, Montella could leave a legacy in Tuscany that could prompt more Italian sides to take the initiative in games.
Juventus' often rock-solid defence has been torn apart by Vincenzo Montella's fast-paced attacking unit. It's beautiful to watch.— James Bufton (@jamesabufton) October 20, 2013