Fiorentina had the better chances, including a Stevan Jovetic header off the bar, so Juventus can be content with a point that ends their perfect record.
“This is not a game. This is The Game,” said Viola captain Manuel Pasqual before stepping into this clash of immense rivalry, one the home side hadn’t won since 1998. Adem Ljajic was chosen as partner to Stevan Jovetic, while Romulo got the nod ahead of Giulio Migliaccio. Juve were defending the only remaining 100 per cent record in Serie A this season, but rested Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic.
Antonio Conte was in the stands due to his 10-month ban, but opted for the Plexiglas coverage of the commentator’s box used by Juventus Channel, as the VIP box was considered too open to potential missiles from fans surrounding it.
Ljajic went down far too easily under a Stephan Lichtsteiner challenge in the first few minutes, then Sebastian Giovinco’s angled drive skimmed the far post and Pasqual volleyed over from a corner.
The Stadio Franchi was up in arms when Arturo Vidal went in with a last-ditch sliding tackle on Pasqual, but the referee ruled he got the ball and replays suggest he was right.
Some wonderful one-touch football set up Ljajic for a shot deflected wide off teammate Juan Cuadrado.
David Pizarro was caught in possession by Andrea Pirlo and was booked for handling as he scrambled to get it back, stopping a dangerous counter-attack. From the resulting free kick, Pirlo’s effort whistled wide of the near post.
The closest chance of the game so far came after 40 minutes when a Pasqual free kick from near the corner flag found a glancing Jovetic header that cracked against the crossbar with Gigi Buffon beaten.
Less than a minute later, Ljajic sprung the offside trap in the final third from a Cuadrado pass and sprinted past Leonardo Bonucci, but pulled the angled drive just wide of the far stick.
Gonzalo Rodriguez was booked for clipping Giovinco’s heels in first half stoppages and the touched-on free kick for Quagliarella went off target.
The tension escalated after the break when Ljajic was booked for simulation in the D, though there was certainly some contact with Giorgio Chiellini. Soon after, Vidal was carded for a fairly similar challenge on Jovetic.
Facundo Roncaglia cut in from the right and placed a daisy-cutter inches wide of the upright, then another Jovetic glancing header whistled past the post.
Buffon smothered a long-range Jovetic effort and Pasqual’s taut cross flew along the box with nobody able to get a final touch. Massimo Carrera tried to shake things up by introducing Vucinic and Paul Pogba.
Romulo scrambled a Giovinco free kick clear, but a Cuadrado screamer grazed the base of the far post from the edge of the box.
Pogba had to stick to Ljajic like glue to stop him getting the shot away at the by-line, then Jovetic was furious with Cuadrado for wasting a counter-attack.
Pasqual had a fantastic chance when Jovetic failed to get to the cross, so his diving header at the back post flashed across the face of goal to skim the far post.
Buffon had to punch a deflected Pasqual cross out from under the bar, but even Luca Toni coming off the bench couldn’t break the deadlock.