Juventus saw their run of six consecutive wins in all competitions come to an end this evening as Fiorentina held them to a goalless draw in an intense but unspectacular encounter at the Artemio Franchi.
Clear-cut chances were in short supply for both sides on a night where defences came out on top on a slippery pitch. A gritty first half gave way to a more free-flowing second period but aside from Patrice Evra’s shot, parried away by Neto, and Juan Cuadrado’s piledriver, pushed clear by Buffon, there was little of note to mention in the final third as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.
There were changes aplenty for Massimiliano Allegri who elected not only to revert back to a 3-5-2 system for the trip to Tuscany but also make four alterations to the starting line-up which beat Torino last Sunday.
One of these fresh faces, Kingsley Coman, making only his second start in the black and white stripes, looked bright early on, dropping off deep to good effect and showing neat footwork to bring his team-mates into play.
It was his fellow countryman, Paul Pogba, who had the first effort on goal after two minutes, slipping past Savic before cutting inside and unleashing a shot which arched over the crossbar.
A similar outcome befell Fernando Llorente three minutes later, with the Spaniard seeing his left-footed shot from 30 yards clear Neto’s goal by some distance.
As the rain poured down at the Artemio Franchi, both sides struggled to gain any real fluidity with the game becoming increasingly fast and furious.
If anything it was the hosts, spearheaded by fleet-footed winger Cuadrado, who looked the most threatening during this period, the Colombian seeing a fizzing effort blocked by Leonardo Bonucci on 21 minutes before sending his second attempt over the bar moments later.
With challenges flying in from both sides on a greasy surface, Nicola Rizzoli found himself frequently at the centre of proceedings during a combative first half, producing the yellow card on four separate occasions, one of which included a crucial booking that will force Giorgio Chiellini to sit out next weekend’s meeting with Sampdoria due to suspension.
Following a lively but inert opening 45 minutes, Juventus came out for the restart with renewed vigour and promptly fashioned a decent chance to open the scoring, Coman, Pogba and Evra sweeping through the midfield delightfully before the latter saw his shot pushed clear by Neto.
Despite the Bianconeri’s added thrust, Fiorentina, urged on by a passionate home crowd, still remained dangerous in attacking areas and first Bonucci then Buffon were required to thwart Mario Gomez and Cuadrado as the hosts began to turn the screw midway through the second period.
But Juventus held firm and dug in for a deserved share of the spoils which takes them four points above nearest challengers Roma, who host Sassuolo in the capital tomorrow evening.