Saturday February 10 2018
It had to be Bernardeschi...

The stage was set for Federico Bernardeschi's return to the Stadio Franchi, writes Emmet Gates, and Juventus breezed round obstacles to beat Fiorentina.

It had to be him, didn’t it? All the talk going into Friday night’s clash centered around Federico Bernardeschi.

How vociferous would the Viola faithful be on his first return back to the arena where they once idolised him? Would he receive the Roberto Baggio circa 1991 treatment? And furthermore, how would the 23-year-old handle the pressure of the whistles that would be rained down upon him?

Well the answer came in the 55th minute, with a casually stroked free kick into the bottom right hand corner of Marco Sportiello’s goal. Bernardeschi was substituted 20 minutes after, to a chorus of boos – not to be wholly unexpected - and fingers pointing him towards birds in the sky, yet the Tuscan native handled the occasion remarkably well. His show of maturity will please Max Allegri, who has used the attacker somewhat sparingly since signing. This was only his sixth league start of the season.

Gonzalo Higuain’s smart, clinical goal capped off a Juventus victory that, whilst having the odd scary moment, was relatively comfortable. Contrary to what Allegri said in the build-up to the game about focusing solely on Fiorentina, Juve clearly had their minds on Tottenham Hotspur, and played within themselves to get the job done as effortlessly as possible.

It’s indicative of where La Viola currently are as a team that their opponents could go into this game with that mentality and still emerge victorious. Stefano Pioli’s men worked hard and pressured the away side, but the repeated lack of investment from the Della Valle brothers was clear for all to see.

Had Gil Dias’ effort not come back off the post and into the hands of Gigi Buffon, the game could’ve swung in a different direction. Yet therein lies the fine margin of success and failure, in investing and refusing to. Fiorentina lacked that sharpness, that finesse, in the final third of the pitch, which was best personified by Bernardeschi and Higuain.

VAR, which has generally been a positive addition to Serie A this season, displayed its flaws in full glory when Fiorentina were awarded a penalty… and then weren’t. Cholito Simeone’s challenge on Alex Sandro in the lead up was visibly a foul, yet it wasn’t spotted by the referees. So came three minutes of nothing, three minutes of everyone waiting, whilst the officials inspected the footage. Three minutes can be a long time. Then came the affirmative no.

Pioli’s insistence in his post-match interview that the decision changed the course of the match is fanciful; Dias’ shot off the post came 20 minutes after the VAR decision, and by his own admission, Jordan Veretout might’ve missed the penalty.

For the champions, it’s evident the midfield struggles without the dynamism of Blaise Matuidi. Such has been his impact this season that Miralem Pjanic in particular suffers without the Frenchman patrolling by his side.

Sami Khedira, in fine form as of late, had another of his ‘invisible’ games, where he is seemingly there in body, but not in spirit, or anything else for that matter. Juve will be hoping for a speedy Matuidi recovery, as a trio of Khedira, Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio lack the legs to dominate a midfield battle.

Victory has momentarily granted Juve top spot once again, trading it like a hot potato with Napoli in recent weeks. The Bianconeri have lost once in the last 16 games and conceded a single goal. Both teams are winning matches at such a relentless pace, they’re on course to break the 100-point barrier.

The focus once more turns to Napoli, who face Lazio in a vital game tonight. With Juve purring along nicely, they can ill afford to slip up. 

Have your say...
LOL first it was "they did not protest"

now it's "they did not protest wildly".. Oh man...

Not to mention that VAR can still intervene without even any protest or even the request of the referee, according to the rules.

And you said the only problem you had with the decision was the fact that the ref did not review the footage himself..
and to you it's "unacceptable" lol

You don't even know what the rules are, but you got mad because it was Juve.

Flip-flopping hypocrite.
on the 14th February, 2018 at 8:38am
Do you guys know another word apart from irrelevant? 12 seconds of video is hardly conclusive as to whether those players protested wildly or was it just a natural reaction. For the record I know Mertens handled and I know that should have been a penalty but Napoli are hardly the most favored side in italy, Juventus are. Funny but it seems without VAR Juventus would have been top of the league but oh yeah anyone that speaks out is irrelevant only you guys that always feel victimized matter.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 4:08pm
@Dennis that's how losers tend to end whenever they couldn't uphold a conversation. From the beginning I'm aware of your motive. There is no room for reasoning against ignorance and the only reason I'm being tolerant to continue this absurd discussion with you is to reveal how much of a stupidity can one ignorant brat make of himself. I think your BS have said it all. Until you can present an evidence not based on your delusional and biased opinion, you're irrelevant.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 1:08pm
And then you'll whine about how the "mafia" programmed those robots to rig decisions in Juve's favour.

Enjoy all versions of events you "know" because making them a reality is a different matter.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 9:31am
@Juventini yet you still feel the need to comment on my post. When was the last time I commented on yours if it was not directed at me? I don't because I do not find anything you say on here worth a damn. Unless you quote my name I ignore you. How can I have a conversation with someone that says Khedira is an attacking mf and there are latter day players that are superior to Maradona. @opt I have given you way too much credit by labeling you a buffoon.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 2:24am
@ Dennis

1- "The players did not protest" Mertens handball...


And even if they didn't (which they did), VAR still can intervene because missed penalty calls are one reason why VAR was created.

2- "Why the referee did not see the video himself"...
"someone else changed his mind for him and that is what I find unacceptable."

LOL.. What you find unacceptable or not is irrelevant.

Here are the rules:

"The process for reviewing a decision can work in two ways; either the referee can request a review after making a decision or the VAR team can recommend one. In the latter situation, if the VAR judges that there is the potential for a clear error to have been made he or she can notify the referee.

The referee then has three options: they can immediately overturn the call based on the VAR's advice, review the incident themselves on a monitor on the touchline or stick with their initial decision."

You see, the referee does not need to review the footage himself.

You are wrong on both points.
Keep moaning.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 1:54am

Yes, we all thought. Then after a few rounds everyone realized it will never happen. Maybe if robots make decisions not the maffia. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. We are used to it. Enjoy
on the 12th February, 2018 at 4:14pm
Dennis Google: Bagher Mertens Vs Crotone.

3 Crotone players reacted to the handball, but cool story bro...
on the 12th February, 2018 at 1:59pm
Oh, dear. You're actually going crazy with it. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

I say it's irrelevant because nearly all your posts are not worth discussing. First, the referee is right, then he isn't? How convenient that he's only right about the decision that fits your narrative.

As I said, let them talk. At most, they make victories sweeter. The incident itself took far too long and we must admit that it's a weakness for VAR.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 1:55pm
@Dennis a clown calling others a buffoon doesn't sound anything convincing at all. Like I said, bring out the damn evidence. If you're implying that the decision took longer than expectation because it was based by an opinion rather than an actual assessment. Fine. Then tell me, why this whole controversy is not based by YOUR OPINION?! Same BS. You defending your outrageous position is hideous!
on the 12th February, 2018 at 1:13pm
he went back and viewed the footage and then changed his mind then I won't have written anything on the subject. Why he changed his mind after viewing the incident on video replay would have been irrelevant but someone else changed his mind for him and that is what I find unacceptable. Just so your thick head understands unless decisions that go your way ultimately gives you championships or relegates you then in the grand scheme of things they are irrelevant to bring up
on the 12th February, 2018 at 11:35am
done. But no he gave a penalty, stood there with everyone in position except Lichsteiner and Pjanic encroaching acting like they were trying to put the penalty taker off. Buffon was stood in his goal. Then after a few minutes he changed his mind to award a free kick to Juventus without looking at the footage himself. He just took the word of someone else who took so long to make that decision. When u take that long it means your decision was based on opinion not a fact. Like I said if he went
on the 12th February, 2018 at 11:27am
@opt this post is dedicated to you as you are obviously a buffoon. What is the point in bringing up decisions favoring a side that ultimately does not benefit in the end? Your side as all the big teams ie Bayern, RM, Barcelona get the favorable decisions that ultimately lead to their success and yes its a CONTRIBUTING factor. This referee made a decision of giving a penalty now if he gave the VAR sign, then went to the video and changed his mind I'd have no problem with it as that is what is
on the 12th February, 2018 at 11:19am
@Ravanelli I saw the game where Mertens handled the ball. The referee did not see it, the crowd did not shout ie they did not see it, the players did not protest so explain why VAR should have been brought in? It was a clear handball and should have been a penalty but nobody called it. The going down easily against Bologna that I thought was not a penalty I called on this forum but you whiners always tar everyone with the same brush.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 11:13am
@Dennis Regarding to the ref, what is the problem if doesn't go view the replay himself? If he can trust the person who is doing so, then so be it! Who is the person to make the conclusive decision? Him! The same man you accused without any substantiate evidence for calling him assisting in a cheat. If he is really a cheat, why would he even gave a penalty in the first place? To make the situation seems more palpable?! Bring an evidence to the table, or shut up and stop stirring controversy.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 9:19am
@Dennis just take a moment to hear yourself. You sound extremely dumb. Look at the direction you are taking yourself into. People complaining about Juve because they won 6x? That has got to be the stupidest thing I've heard. It's call personal jealousy and has got absolute nothing to with Juve success.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 9:09am
Nobody is saying that Napoil are favored. We are just pointing out the hypocrisy.

Napoli are in the scudetto race. Where are all the moaners and the fake neutrals who "love the game" when a decision goes to Napoli's favor?

It's also funny how the handball itself was not discussed anywhere. Whether it was deserving of a penalty or not in the first place.

Compare that with the one against Milan. When it seemed like it was the end of the world.

on the 12th February, 2018 at 1:37am
Bottom line is, Sandro's pass was involuntary.

The VAR ref made the call. There's talk about how VAR refs have more power now.
The referee doesn't need to review it himself.

Yes the official call was offside, but you can clearly see there was a foul as well. What's so hard to understand?

You're the whiner Dennis, not Juve fans who are commenting on a blog regarding their team.
Hell, the first comment on this blog is you moaning.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 1:32am
@Opt "HE made a wrong decision and HE permitted to deny it. SAME REF!" There must be a word missing there as I do not understand you but if you are saying the referee changed his mind do you mind telling me how he did so without viewing the evidence? He didn't look at the video. You saying that ppl are only complaining about Juve's calls well they have 6 scudetti in a row. Nobody talks about them getting calls in CL as they have not won it since 95/96. Do you guys not call Barca Uefalona?
on the 11th February, 2018 at 10:43pm
@Dennis so you just love the game and you happened to pick Juve's when there were so many VAR controversial decisions before this one and let alone this is a clear cut illegitimate penalty call. You're confusing the term "correction" by Juve fans with "moaning" which is exactly what you are doing. How is it that you cannot understand that it was an incorrect decision by the ref, HE made a wrong decision and HE permitted to deny it. SAME REF! Basic comprehension. Seriously, you are so full of it.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 7:51pm
@Amager it's sad how sad you are, you're so sad. The VAR was used to check for offside adn it resulted in it finding an offside position, that's what everybody is saying. it was offside and Sandro did not intentionally pass the ball to the Fiorentina player(why the hell would he?). The argument is that even if he did pass it intentionally, which he did not, it looked like he was fouled in the process so that's another reason the decision was rightfully overturned. read the offside rules, SAD!
on the 11th February, 2018 at 6:06pm
Now, onto important matters. We've won the 3 points and Napoli did the same against the 3rd best team of the season. Whether they throw Europa away is up to them, but for Juve we need to face Spurs with more intensity than Fiorentina. It's more out of respect for the competition, not a moderately good Spurs side.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 4:51pm
If that's the way you see it, let's go back to the days where you lot were sure VAR will end Juve dominance. What's sad is this obsession with Juve when you're not a fan.

Never said you can't share your opinion, only that it's irrelevant. The team certainly doesn't play for your jeers.

We got the message the first time btw. You feel shame, and you desperately want it connected to Juve. Go crazy with that, I say.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 4:48pm
the match on BT sports that I subscribe to on my 50"TV. I did not stream the game with buffering problems and I did not use my very small screen mobile phone. On a number of times when 2 players came together like when Lichtsteiner came together with Chiesa took a dive then kicked out, the referee gave him a yellow but other times he let the game go. As 4 the whiners you have won the triple double but still accuse Napoli of being favored not your team that always wins. Calciopoli it was Inter
on the 11th February, 2018 at 4:24pm
@Opt I do not support any team as I just love the game. The laughable thing is that with all your moaning and I am talking about all the Juventus whiners on here. None of you know why the decision was reversed. Some say offside, some say Sandro was fouled. 1 even tried to prove that nobody will pass the ball backwards unless their fouled as if Simeone did not put pressure on Sandro and the best he could do in the circumstances was play the ball anywhere in this case backwards. And Opt I watched
on the 11th February, 2018 at 4:16pm
Juve fans, you're all very very sad. It's devastating how sad you are. The referee did a VAR on an offside position, there was absolutely no foul. The referee himself said it, the situation was reviewed because of eventual offside position. Trying to turn things upside down shows what kind of a cheaters you are. At least admit that you needed help to win, as you usually do.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 2:29pm
Great decision by the refs who should be congratulated. Fiorentina player clearly tackled the ball through as replays proved. Therefore, clear offside and would have been a controversy if the original decision stood. Why always complain at officials - we should give them credit on the rare instances they deserve it.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 2:00pm
forza Juve, 7th Scudetto
on the 11th February, 2018 at 7:33am
@ghirigori so which top division team do you support? The same I asked @Dennis and guy turn absolutely mute on that subject. Same old obvious trolls. Their team started winning and they all came out from their caves.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 7:06am
@Dennis Juve never need a ref decision ever to get a victory but it is part of the game so what do expect Juve to do? When a ref made decision against Juve it was considered nothing but the moment when ref make one that favors Juve, people like you calling it cheat. Why aren't you arguing the fact that the penalty was given instead of arguing the penalty was denied? Wasn't it the same ref who made the decisions? Your intention to stir controversy is so obvious it makes me sick down to my gutter.
on the 11th February, 2018 at 7:02am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.