It was a single moment of exceptional quality from Andrea Pirlo that pushed Juventus rather than Fiorentina into the Europa League quarter-finals last night, but the statistics show that the Bianconeri had long been building up to a winner.
The midfield maestro’s fifth converted free-kick in all competitions this season came in the 71st minute, the culmination of strong pressure from Antonio Conte’s men in their search for the goal they needed to overturn a 1-1 home draw in the first leg of the last 16 tie.
Juve recorded 19 shots to Fiorentina’s 11 overall, seven of which troubled the goalkeeper compared to three from the Viola. As a result, yesterday’s visitors are now unmatched in the number of shots on target they have managed in the knockout stages of this year’s competition (35).
And they had the upper hand in terms of possession at the Artemio Franchi, too, with 55.9 per cent overall.
Key to the Bianconeri’s ability to keep hold of the ball was another expert display from Pirlo, 90.3 per cent of whose passes found their target.
Credit also to defender Martin Caceres, who was equally impressive in keeping Juve moving forward with 80 passes overall, more than anyone else on the field made.