MILAN (AFP) – Maurizio Sarri’s first game on the Juventus bench ended with a painful goalless draw at Fiorentina yesterday as the Italian champions held on despite losing three players to injury.
Former Chelsea coach Sarri missed the opening two wins with pneumonia, but was back fit just days before Juventus travel to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
But the afternoon match under the sun in Florence proved costly for the reigning eight-time Serie A champions with winger Douglas Costa limping off early, followed by midfielder Miralem Pjanic and defender Danilo.
Brazilian Costa, who turned 29 yesterday, pulled up with a hamstring problem minutes into the game, as Pjanic had a muscular issue just before the break with Danilo suffering cramps in the heat.
Sarri’s side are already missing injured captain Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio and Marko Pjaca.
They nevertheless held despite pressure with former French international Franck Ribery impressive on his first start for the hosts.
“A team with less character would have lost a game like this,” said Sarri. “It was a very complicated situation as we used all our substitutions for injuries, and had no fresh players to introduce at key moments.
“We didn’t have a high level match on a technical level.We had five players at the Copa America and eight in the infirmary, so we have half the squad at a more advanced fitness level than the rest. It was a difficult situation to deal with.”
Ribery, 36, went off to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Artemio Franchi Stadium after an hour as his team earned their first point this season.
“I hadn’t played a game like this for almost three months,” said former Bayern Munich player Ribery. “I’m happy because I played an hour well. Good game today. We had few chances but Juve are a great team and it was very hot.”
Ribery and Federico Chiesa caused Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny problems early. Ribery tested Szczesny after a Chiesa cross and then set up Dalbert who missed the chance to head in before the break.
Pjanic made way for Rodrigo Bentancur before the break with Ribery then doing well to neutralise a Cristiano Ronaldo counter-attack.
Juventus had a chance to break through in the 74th minute when Sami Khedira raced down the right to serve Ronaldo, only for German Pezzella to intercept.
A Ronaldo bicycle kick in the 85th minute, went high over the bar as Juventus settled for a point.
The champions are top of the table with seven points from three games but Inter Milan can move ahead when they host Udinese as Napoli host Sampdoria.