Fiorentina beat their huge rivals from Turin in an absolutely brilliant game of football in Florence. The rivalry is well documented at other sites, so let’s just say this win will be remembered for La Viola for a long time. Here we take a look at how Paulo Sousa masterminded the 2-1 win over Juventus.

Fiorentina started with their usual, innovative style using a 4-4-2 when defending and a 3-4-2-1 when attacking. The line up read: Tatarusanu; Sanchez, Gonzalo, Astori; Chiesa, Badelj, Vecino, Oliveira; Bernardeschi, Valero; Kalinic. This meant that defensively, Sanchez becomes the right back, Oliveira the left back, Chiesa stays as the right midfielder while Valero drops in to be the left midfielder, building two banks of four behind the front two.
Juventus came with a 3-5-2 with Buffon in goal, Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini in defence, Cuadrado, Khedira, Marchisio, Sturaro and Alex Sandro in midfield and Dybala and Higuain up front.

Pressing disrupts Juventus’ build up

shape-igen

Here we see Fiorentina’s basic shape when defending. Situationally, the front two line up like above or sometimes as below. Note the compactness between the lines, forcing Juventus wide in their attacking game where Oliveira and Sanchez on the opposite side are always ready to be aggressive and press.

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One of the main keys to Fiorentina’s win was the intense high pressing to disrupt Juventus’ build up play. Chiesa and Valero move high with Kalinic and Bernardeschi to put pressure on the Juventus back three. In midfield, the nearest midfielder (Badelj) pick up Sturaro who comes to try and get on the ball. Chiellini played the ball out of play.

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Front four move high to stop Juventus getting an easy build up, forcing Buffon long.

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One pressing trigger Fiorentina consistently used was back passes, specifically those back to Buffon. Here, Bonucci plays it back to his goalkeeper and Kalinic starts pressing straight away.

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Buffon tries to play out and uses Barzagli. Valero has followed the lead set by Kalinic and presses intensely.

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The ball is played along the line to Cuadrado (just like Sousa wants) who is pressed by Oliveira and passes back to Buffon. Note how quickly Fiorentina have become compact around the ball and closes off the passing options.

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The goalkeeper is pressed by Kalinic who reacted to the back pass (pressing trigger, remember) and boots the ball out of play.
This sequence is just one of many in the game, but highlights one consistent pressing trigger by the home side. Fiorentina also used counter-pressing when possible, for example the opening goal.

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Sanchez tries to find Kalinic in behind, but the ball is too short. The Croatian challenges Bonucci in the air and the ball will drop loose.

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Alex Sandro and Federico Bernardeschi challenge for the ball, with the Italian forward more determined to win the ball, which he duly does. Also note how quickly both Bernardeschi and Chiesa has reacted to the loose ball and started pressing.

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Bernardeschi brings the ball forward and sets up Kalinic nicely taken strike.

Build up play beats Juve press

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Here we see the basic shape when attacking. Sanchez, Gonzalo and Astori at the back, Chiesa and Oliveira wing backs with Badelj and Vecino in midfield while Bernardeschi and Valero occupies either half space as attacking midfielders. Kalinic is the striker, not in frame.

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The 3-4-2-1 shape in attack naturally creates multiple triangles and diamonds in the structure. Fiorentina have a numerical advantage with 3 vs 2 at the back and 4 vs 3 in midfield with the two holding midfielders and the two attacking midfielders. The teams are 1 vs 1 at the sides. This numerical superiority helped Fiorentina dominate the ball, possession and by doing so also dominating the match.

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The 3 vs 2 from the back helped Fiorentina bring the ball out of the back quite easily at times. Additionally, one of the midfielders could drop in to get on the ball and thus creating a diamond as can be seen above.

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Occasionally, Sturaro would leave midfield to press Sanchez with Juve now in a 5-2-3 while defending. However, Fiorentina still got out of the press by using Vecino or Badelj as the free man to bring the ball out. Here, Vecino drops in and can’t be pressed by Khedira due to the central positioning of Bernardeschi and Valero. If he steps up, the ball will be played to them. Sousa’s use of Sanchez at right centre-back proved inspired and he was one of the best players on the pitch, impressing with his passing from the back.

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Here, Sturaro presses Sanchez hard, but the former Aston Villa midfielder plays a brilliant pass inside to the free man, Vecino.

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Vecino can turn and attack Juve from a central position, and Juve’s press has been in vain.

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Due to the high positioning of Fiorentina’s wing backs, Juventus’ wing backs were forced deep, opening up space for Bernardeschi and Valero to exploit outside Juve’s midfield. Here Sanchez can easily find an unmarked Bernardeschi.

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And here Sanchez finds Bernardeschi who turns and can attack the Juventus defence. One pass from Sanchez beats the entire Juve midfield, freeing Fiorentina to attack 5 vs 4.

Conclusion

Fiorentina played brilliantly throughout the ninety minutes and the goals from Kalinic and Badelj was enough to see off Juventus despite Higuain’s strike. Paulo Sousa has been criticized this season but he played this one perfectly. His pressing schemes stopped Juventus from playing, and Fiorentina’s build up play was really impressive. Pair that with the intensity of their pressing and you can understand why Juve struggled to keep up with the home side. A big, big win for Sousa, Fiorentina, their fans and the title race.

Giro d’Italia

 

Inter are starting to click, but in typical Inter-fashion, they couldn’t just beat Chievo easily at San Siro on Saturday night. Inter dominated from start to finish but Chievo took the lead through Sergio Pellissier from a corner. Chievo’s first shot and basically first attack. Inter piled on the pressure though, and Mauro Icardi (who else?) equalised from Antonio Candreva’s superb cross. Ivan Perisic added a second and Eder sealed the win for an impressive performance by Stefano Pioli’s men. With the addition of Roberto Gagliardini, made his debut here, in midfield alongside Geoffrey Kondogbia, the attackers have a solid base from where to attack.

Roma keep winning, reducing the deficit to only one point at the summit after Radja Nainggolan scored again to win three vital points in a tough game at Udinese. Juve still have a game in hand so could extend the lead to four points, but Roma are really pushing them now and are showing remarkable consistency.

Consistent is also Lazio, where Simone Inzaghi now has the best points/games ratio by all current Serie A coaches. At home to Atalanta, goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile saw off the Bergamasci despite Andrea Petagna firing Gian Piero Gasperini’s side ahead in the first half. Inzaghi has found the perfect balance at Lazio and continues to be flexible with his tactical setup, which is vital in Italian football.

Sassuolo has been awaiting Domenico Berardi’s return like a Christmas-longing kid, and when he returned to the XI at the weekend he set up two goals as Sassuolo came from behind to beat Palermo 4-1. Robin Quaison scored the opener after collecting Ilija Nestorovski’s incredible back-heel flick, before Berardi assisted Alessandro Matri and Antonio Ragusa to turn the game in the Neroverdi’s favour. Matri and Matteo Politano added two goals later on to seal an emphatic win for the home side on the return of their talisman.

Sampdoria and Empoli drew 0-0 when Marco Giampaolo went up against his former club. Levan Mchedlidze missed a penalty for the visitors in a, at times, scrappy game.

Torino went all-out-attack against Milan (as they do in every game) and deservedly went 2-0 up quickly following goals from Andrea Belotti and Marco Benassi. Adem Ljajic then missed a penalty to make it 3-0 as Toro destroyed Milan in the first half. However, Milan came back with a strong response in the second half and Andrea Bertolacci battled home a goal before Luca Rossettini brought down Gabriel Paletta, handing Milan a penalty which Carlos Bacca converted to seal a draw. Sinisa Mihajlovic was furious after the game, and rightly so, considering Torino were 1-0 up in the Coppa Italia just days previously but still lost to Vincenzo Montella’s Milan. It didn’t make Mihajlovic happier since he was sacked by Milan last year. Tough week.

Napoli march on after brushing Pescara aside at San Paolo. New goalscoring machine Lorenzo Tonelli (two in two) opened the scoring in the second half and was followed by strikes from Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens. Gianluca Caprari scored a consolation penalty late on for the guests. Maurizio Sarri’s men keep the pressure up on Juventus and Roma, and are starting to gear up for Real Madrid in a month.

Crotone hosted Bologna on Saturday in a tight, even game. Bologna is the side with more quality, which showed when Blerim Dzemaili struck the only goal of the game with a good strike from distance. The three points sees Bologna sail away from the relegation zone and Crotone, Palermo and Pescara all need massive miracles to stay up.

Cagliari is one of the most entertaining teams in the league going forward, and also concede a lot. Against Ivan Juric’ energetic Genoa, they went a goal down following Giovanni Simeone’s header, but fought back and rallied to a 4-1 win at Sardinia. Goals from Marco Borriello, Joao Pedro Galvao, Borriello again and Diego Farias ensured a spectacular and vital win for Cagliari who should be safe now. Genoa chase consistency, but this wasn’t very impressive at all.
Player of the week

Alessandro Matri has mostly been on the bench this season, but he got a rare start against Palermo and repaid Eusebio Di Francesco by scoring twice to give Sassuolo a valuable win.

Coach of the week

Paulo Sousa set up the tactical blueprint for Fiorentina’s extremely impressive win over Juventus on Sunday night. Big win for Sousa.

Goal of the week

Robin Quaison’s goal was brilliant, his run and calmness while through on goal was impressive, but the goal was obviously made by Ilija Nestorovski’s sensational back-heel flick.

Results
Crotone-Bologna 0-1
Inter-Chievo 3-1
Cagliari-Genoa 4-1
Lazio-Atalanta 2-1
Torino-Milan 2-2
Fiorentina-Juventus 2-1
Napoli-Pescara 3-1
Sampdoria-Empoli 0-0
Udinese-Roma 0-1
Sassuolo-Palermo 4-1

All images are courtesy of Viasat, Sweden’s biggest broadcaster of sport.

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