And so Serie A opens the 2012-2013 season with a 2-1 victory by Fiorentina over Udinese -- and what a great match to start off the year. After the last two seasons, the idea of opening with the Viola seemed a dreadful way to start the campaign: Fiorentina were boring, were uninspired, were near-dreadful at times. But with Vincenzo Montella at the helm, new life has come to Florence. Like Catania last season, his Viola poured forth, constantly on the attack. But also like Catania, they often just couldn't find quite the right shot.
Udinese, meanwhile, might be fielding an indistinguishable herd of little zebras, but they remain the same Udinese: sit back, hit on the counter, score, hold on and defend fiercely until seeing a picture perfect opportunity. The players may rotate but the zebrette find new ones to fit the system, and while it may sometimes be tedious it remains effective -- for the most part. But when you let a team simply pour forth again and again, the pressure builds, and if the defence isn't flawless, well...
Despite Fiorentina having the majority of the possession -- nearly all of it, in fact -- it was the visitors who scored first. Just as always, it was a quick counterattack that took the Viola by surprise. Luis Muriel sent through a perfect pass to Maicosuel, who managed to stay just onside to go one-on-one with Emiliano Viviano. He slotted the ball into the low left corner, scoring the first goal of the season and his first in Serie A.
Fiorentina did their damnedest to try and find an equaliser, but they were up against a brick wall -- a 6'6" brick wall that goes by the name of Zeljko Brkic. For such a tall man, the Serbian goalkeeper is surprisingly acrobatic, and he showed off all his moves as he denied his compatriot Adem Ljajić again and again. And so the match headed to halftime with Udinese leading 1-0.
Apparently all Montella could say to his side at the break was, "keep doing what you're doing." And so they did, and so it worked. To the surprise of most watching the match, Montella took off Ljajić in the 66th minute, despite his accurate shots only being denied by the skills of Brkic. But that must've triggered something inside Stevan Jovetić (maybe he was afraid to be next?) because in the next minute, the Montenegrin scored. The ball took a lucky deflection off Danilo, leaving Brkic no way of stopping it.
But Jojo's second contained no element of luck whatsoever -- just calm, cool composure. Alberto Aquilani, on for the last fifteen minutes, sent a lovely cross to the left side of the pitch, where Jovetić was lingering just outside the area. He bent his shot around the Udinese defender, letting it fly into the far corner.
Seconds later, the whistle blew, and the Viola had all three points. Could this be the start of a true renaissance in Florence?
Fiorentina: Emiliano Viviano, Gonzalo, Matija Nastasić, Facundo Roncaglia, Romulo (Alberto Aquilani 78), Borja Valero, David Pizarro, Manuel Pasqual, Mattia Cassani (Juan Cuadrado 57), Stevan Jovetić (Goal 67), Adem Ljajić (Mounir El Hamdaoui 66)
Udinese: Zeljko Brkic, Danilo, Thomas Heurtaux, Andrea Coda, Willians (Roberto Pereyra 45), Cristian Battocchio, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Giovanni Pasquale, Marco Davide Faraoni, Luis Muriel (Diego Fabbrini 66), Maicosuel (Goal 28)