Entertaining scoreless draws was the theme of the week in round 16 of Serie A, the first time since 1994/95 when Juventus, Inter, Roma and Napoli had all failed to find the back of the net in the same matchday.
Juve-Inter headed up the billing in this week’s fixtures, with Bianconeri boss Max Allegri determined to neutralise the threat of the opposition wingers in order to stop Mauro Icardi from scoring.
While that part of the plan worked perfectly, Juve themselves drew a blank thanks to some wasteful finishing from striker Mario Mandzukic and some good defensive work from Luciano Spalletti’s side.
“Inter pressed hard in the opening 20 minutes, so in those circumstances we had to make do, even if we had the best chances in that period with Mario Mandzukic,” said Allegri to reporters after the match.
“Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perisic crossed more than anyone else in Serie A this season, but tonight Juan Cuadrado, Mattia De Sciglio, Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi worked well to double up and not allow any crosses.”
Whilst the opposition boss thought his side could’ve sneaked a victory, keeping a clean sheet away to a side who had won six Serie A titles in a row was an achievement in itself. The last team to do so was Udinese back in 2015, proving how much of a fortress Juventus Stadium has become.
After defeats to Juventus and Feyenoord, it was always going to be difficult for Napoli to bounce back against a young and energetic Fiorentina side that has been steadily growing in confidence.
Stefano Pioli’s men worked tirelessly to break up Napoli’s build-up play, with the absence of Lorenzo Insigne through injury also a key factor in the home side’s lack of potency in a 0-0 draw.
It was a missed opportunity for the Partenopei to capitalise on Saturday’s draw between title rivals Juve and Inter, but the effects of a lack of squad rotation are clearly showing in Naples. Nonetheless, the opposition boss was keen to ensure that his players took credit for a superb performance from the Tuscan visitors.
“We had a good game, the forwards did fine work and Napoli made us run a lot, but we went beyond the result and performance. The important thing is that Fiorentina are here,” said Pioli to Sky Italia after the match.
“It was difficult to surprise Napoli, but they really felt the absence of Lorenzo Insigne, as he can resolve a game by taking men on. They have lost sharpness in recent weeks, but I want to give credit for the result to my players.”
38-year-old Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino pulled off a man-of-the-match winning performance in Verona on Sunday as his side held Roma to a 0-0 draw. Despite firing 26 shots on goal during the match – eight of which were on target – the Giallorossi drew a blank and remain fourth in the standings.