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The Bianconeri routed Fiorentina 5-0 on Saturday night, but Antonio Conte's men remain four points off top spot, with the Rossoneri having eased past Parma earlier in the day

ANALYSIS
By Mark Doyle

After a week in which Juventus imposed a media blackout in protest of their perceived unfair treatment at the hands of match officials, the Bianconeri let their football do the talking at the Artemio Franchi on Saturday evening.

Antonio Conte’s men racked up five unanswered goals against 10-man Fiorentina to end a damaging run of four successive draws in Serie A and the message to league leaders AC Milan was clear: Juventus have no intention of giving up on this season’s Scudetto. Indeed, it was an emphatic statement of intent from a side which was in danger of allowing their title challenge to flounder on a lack of potency up front.

Juve, of course, are in with a very real chance of going through the entire season unbeaten but the suspicion has been growing in recent weeks that an unblemished record will not be good enough to land the title.

MATCH FACTS | Fiorentina 0-5 Juventus

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Territory
 Corners
 Bookings
FIORENTINA
5
1
28%
40%
6
1
JUVENTUS
12
7
72%
60%
5
1
After picking up a very creditable point against the Rossoneri at San Siro at the tail end of last month, the Bianconeri have managed to accrue just three more from their subsequent clashes with Chievo, Bologna and Genoa. That dismal run has allowed title rivals Milan to pull four points clear at the summit of the standings.

That Juve found the net just twice over the course of those three draws against mid-table opponents starkly highlighted where the Bianconeri’s problems lie and that is precisely why their 5-0 victory in Florence is of such significance.

Admittedly, Fiorentina completely collapsed after seeing Alessio Cerci sent-off while just one goal adrift midway through the first-half. However, Juventus ruthlessly exploited their numerical advantage. It was difficult not to be impressed – and indeed surprised – by just how clinical they were, scoring with five of their seven shots on target.

Mirko Vucinic was key in this regard. The Montenegrin had thus far failed to demonstrate exactly why the Bianconeri handed over a reported €15 million to sign him from Roma last summer, but he was the best player on the pitch at the Franchi, opening the scoring with a wonderful strike from the edge of the area 15 minutes before putting the ball on a plate for Claudio Marchisio to head in Juve’s third goal, and then setting up Andrea Pirlo for the fourth just moments later with a sublimely-weighted through ball. If Vucinic can maintain this level of performance, Juventus have every chance of overhauling Milan at the top of the table.

That Marchisio got himself on the scoresheet was also a major plus for the Bianconeri given that ‘the new Tardelli’ had not scored since the start of December.

MATCH FACTS | Parma 0-2 AC Milan

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Territory
 Corners
 Bookings
PARMA
14
4
51%
67%
8
2
AC MILAN
12
6
49%
33%
1
2
It is imperative that Juve’s midfielders continue chipping in with goals as Alessandro Matri remains a tad hit and miss, while Fabio Quagliarella and Marco Borriello are just miss.

However, while it seems that Juventus are belatedly bearing their teeth, it is hard to suppress the feeling that they might have left it too late.

Milan’s victory over Parma was their third in a row and there is a relentlessness and sense of momentum about Massimiliano Allegri’s side which suggests that they will not be caught.

The Rossoneri performed poorly in their 2-0 victory over Parma – but that is exactly the point.

Even during a substandard showing, Milan still had enough in attack to come away from the Ennio Tardini with the win. Winning without playing well is the hallmark of champions and it is a feat that Juventus have yet to master.

In addition, the game against Parma also saw Gennaro Gattuso and Alberto Aquilani return from their respective recent ailments. Maxi Lopez also featured against the Gialloblu, while Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf and Alexandre Pato are all on the way back to full fitness.

Milan’s injury crisis is easing and that, coupled with their ability to win ugly, spells bad news for Juventus.

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