The Serie A leaders Juventus beat Fiorentina 3-2 on Wednesday but their title celebrations were delayed by Lazioa s 4-0 victory over a Parma side who are now certain to be relegated But Juve, who are 14 points clear with five matches to go, will be champions with a draw at Sampdoria on Saturday.
As they prepared to host Fiorentina on Wednesday evening,Juventus knew that each stage of a remarkable treble was slowly coming within touching distance. A Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid looms large on the horizon, with the Coppa Italia final against Lazio to follow later next month. Both sides were coming off surprise defeats at the weekend, as the Viola had lost three on the bounce in Serie A, while the Bianconeri fell 2-1 to rivals Torino. Claudio Marchisio returned from suspension, but Leonardo Bonucci was banned with Paul Pogba, Martin Caceres, Kwadwo Asamoah and Romulo. Khouma Babacar and Giuseppe Rossi were out for the season. Fiorentina are the only side to have conquered the Juventus Stadium since Bayern Munich in April 2013, winning 2-1 here in the Coppa Italia semi-final last month. However, their most recent League victory here was 3-2 in March 2008.
Juventus are the most prolific side in the opening 45 minutes of games so far this Serie A season, but it was the visitors that started brighter pressing the ball high up the pitch as well as being comfortable in possession. Gianluigi Buffon was untested though, as Juve recorded the first shot on target in the match after 20 minutes when Llorente rolled Rodriguez and forced Neto into a comfortable save. Fiorentina did take the lead from the penalty spot after Andrea Pirlo tripped Joaquin just inside the box sticking out his left leg when the wingback stepped outside him from a short corner. The Tuscan side was the only team in the top five European leagues to have failed to convert any of the previous four penalties awarded to them this season, but Rodriguez beat Buffon with a powerful right-footed strike high into the corner. Their lead only lasted for two minutes and 28 seconds as Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto was shown a yellow card after rushing outside his box to challenge Stefano Sturaro. Pirlo curled the resultant free-kick from near the corner flag on the left side into the centre of the box for Llorente to score with a header into the bottom corner. Patrice Evra then forced Neto to claw away a bullet header from close range after a Pirlo corner before turning provider, as Juventus turned the game around with a goal in the final action of the first-half. The 33-year-old fullback picked out Tevez with an excellent pass over the Viola defence and the Argentine scored for his fourth successive Serie A match at the Juventus Stadium with a looping header.
Fiorentina gave nothing more away in the first third of the second half and even sniffed for a leveller on occasions. They thought they had been given the perfect opportunity to produce one in the 66th minute when Giorgio Chiellini felled Joaquin in the area. This time, however, Rodriguez made a mess of his spot-kick, sending the ball wide and inspiring much backslapping from Juve’s players. Tevez sensed blood and quickly doubled his side’s advantage with a fine strike in the 70th minute. Put through by Claudio Marchisio, the Argentine stormed into Neto’s box before picking his spot just inside the far post. With time running out it looked like Juve had done enough to rubber-stamp the three points that put them on the brink of a fourth straight title, but Fiorentina fancied reminding them that there would be no festivities just yet. Substitute Josip Ilicic aped set-piece master Pirlo with a searing free-kick that Gianluigi Buffon could only wave a fist at.
Fiorentina have now lost each of their last four league matches for the first time since February 2005, whereas Juventus are now undefeated in their last 45 home matches in Serie A. Juventus remain 14 points clear of Lazio and will clinch a fourth successive title with a point at Sampdoria on Saturday.
No matter what he does on the transfer market this summer, Beppe Marotta should be lauded for nabbing Carlos Tevez for such a small fee from Manchester City. The Argentine has been simply phenomenal this term and it keeps getting better as we approach the business end of this season. Gigi Buffon made his 529th appearance last night, moving him all alone into third place all time at the club while Claudio Marchisio recorded his 300th appearance, which was capped with another beautiful assist for Juvea s third goal. Andrea Barzagli produced a confident performance against Fiorentina but Giorgio Chiellini conceded a needless penalty in the second half. With Chiellini continually error-prone, it is perhaps not too far-fetched to suggest Allegri should consider sitting the 30-year-old for a period, particularly now that Andrea Barzagli has fully recovered from his own injury problems. It would be a bold move to drop the vice-captain, but if Allegri goes with a four-man defence against Real Madrid, a Bonucci-Barzagli pairing would see his two most in-form players take the field.
Stefano Sturaro had an impressive game registering a team-high four tackles plus he was relentless and active throughout the night. Fernando Llorente gained some confidence by netting the equalizer and one must not forget that he does know a thing or two about scoring goals against Real Madrid. There was also plenty of food for thought ahead of that clash with the reigning European champions, and it will be interesting to see what decisions are made along the way.