Juventus are in a tight race for one of Serie A’s four Champions League spots, and they may have lost ground to Atalanta and Napoli this weekend by dropping more points. After losing to Atalanta last weekend, they bounced back with a mid-week win over Parma. But they could not make it two in a row, as they drew Fiorentina 1-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday afternoon.
Here are three takeaways from Juve’s draw with Fiorentina.
Cristiano Ronaldo struggles
It’s become annoying covering a team with Cristiano Ronaldo on it, because you have to deal with two utterly ridiculous groups of irrational people. The first are the people who have outlandish takes about how Ronaldo is overrated or the team is better off without him etc. All of that is patently false.
But then you also have to deal with a group of people who cannot seem to wrap their heads around the fact that even a player as good as Ronaldo will have a bad game here or there. The excuses rain down, to the point where you’d wonder if Ronaldo himself would even appreciate the circular nature behind the logic of these excuses.
Anyway, Ronaldo played poorly against Fiorentina. If he were more clinical and better at linking up with his teammates in this one, Juventus most likely would have won. He missed a sitter in the second half, which should have given Juve the lead.
Ronaldo did a good job of trying to make things happen. He worked hard for the team and had three dribbles completed with four fouls drawn, per WhoScored.com. But at the end of the day, he struggled to create anything meaningful on the ball and made some poor shots.
Juventus cannot overcome embarrassing first half
Andrea Pirlo did well when it came to responding to what the team needed in the second half, but Juventus drew because his initial gameplan was so woeful.
Juve were shockingly poor in the first half, and they are fortunate they did not head into the break down by more than the one goal from the penalty spot.
When attacking, Juve were far too condensed and painfully slow in their build-up. This allowed Fiorentina to sit back and steal the ball. Juve played right into Fiorentina’s hands. They passed the ball into crowded areas, gave Fiorentina time to read whatever they attempted, and left themselves vulnerable to counterattacks.
You can’t consistently win matches when you play that poorly for a half. That’s been one of the stories of the season for Juventus, dropping points because they started the game with an inadequate gameplan.
Alvaro Morata shows his value
Alvaro Morata is the only forward who can really be praised for his performance against Fiorentina, because Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala both struggled in the XI.
The Spanish international did not start for the Bianconeri, but he entered the match in the second half for the invisible Dybala. It took mere minutes for Morata to make himself visible, as he scored a great goal that was the result of his run in behind and a swerving, left-footed finish from a tough angle.
Morata may not come back to Juventus next season, but the Bianconeri must do whatever they can to keep him for at least one more year. Without that one great moment, Juve would have suffered a second humiliation to Fiorentina this season, and they would be in even more trouble in the Champions League race.