Andrea Pirlo has once marked his territory in the midfield for Juventus. Scoring goals, notching assists, and controlling the tempo of play in the heart of the park are all what he does best. Today at Fiorentina was no different.
The first half of the Europa League Round of 16 was dominated by home Fiorentina, who managed to salvage a draw last week in Turin. Their first half chances were decent, but none would send the ball into the back of the net. They actually managed to outplay Juventus in every category during the first 45 minutes, but that was never going to be enough without scoring.
The second half brought about a complete turnaround, as the Juve onslaught was a bit too much to overcome. The passing, running, defending and attacking was far superior as of that from the first half. They realized that they had to score at least one goal to stay alive in the tie. Well, they did just.
Captain Gonzalo Rodriguez dropped Fernando Llorente just outside the area before being ejected for his second yellow of the night. Up stepped Pirlo to send home one of his most beautiful free-kick goals ever to win the game. His last seven goals for his club have all arrived from direct free-kicks — the man is simply unstoppable from that set-piece opportunity.
Fiorentina was unable to recover as Juve kept on attacking with the hopes of killing the game off with a second goal. Mario Gomez had decent chances in the first half, but could not do much in the second, as he was closed down a lot more this week after scoring in last week’s first leg.
Now, we will have to wait and see who Juve’s quarterfinal opponent will be after tomorrow’s draw. Whoever they face must be wary of Pirlo’s ability to change a game in an instant along with his hardworking teammates.