Five things we learned from Juventus’ home win over Fiorentina
Craig Turnbull saw the reigning Serie A champions defeat Vicenzo Montella's side 2-0 at home.
Juventus continued their march towards a second successive Serie A title with a convincing 2-0 victory over fierce rivals Fiorentina this weekend.
A vicious strike from Mirko Vucinic in the opening 20 minutes put the Bianconeri ahead before Alessandro Matri doubled their lead shortly before half-time.
The Turin giants threatened to pile more misery onto Vincenzo Montella's side, who the coach admitted were beaten by a ‘superior’ team, but had to settle for the two-goal win and moved five points clear at the top of the table.
Antonio Conte's men would have seen this as ideal preparation for Tuesday's Champions League clash against Celtic. Though there is concern over Vucinic's fitness after the Montenegrin international limped off injured midway through the second half. Reports suggest however, he will be fit in time for the match.
There would have been plenty of interested spectators from Glasgow keeping a close eye on events unfolding at Juventus Stadium, and here is five things we learned heading into the eagerly anticipated encounter against the Italians.
1. Juventus forwards' profligacy could be Celtic's gain
The Scudetto champions' attackers both netted in this match, but this does not cover the deeper lying issue within the camp; they lack a great goalscorer.
Vucinic may have put the hosts ahead with a venomous, half-volley, but the 29-year-old also missed in an one-on-one situation where he lacked composure and conviction to slot the ball past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, though, he may have been caught in two minds with Matri nearby.
The striker has tremendous ability with his back to goal, is strong and will enable other players to get involved, dropping deeper to allow runners to exploit space in behind the defence.
But having only scored six goals in Serie A this season, there is a genuine question mark over whether the Bianconeri faithful can rely on him to fire the side into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Sebastian Giovinco, who came on for Vucinic after he pulled up with a knee problem, is another option and the diminutive forward, although struggling for fitness, showed glimpses of the talent he possesses on Saturday.
The 26-year-old has a tendency to overplay and at times is too eager to impress, but if he features at Celtic Park, most likely from the bench, he will bring pace, energy and enthusiasm to the Juventus attack.
Meanwhile, Matri is certainly not the quickest, while his first touch tends to let him down.
He did score with his sock over the weekend as his boot came off in the build up to the second goal, but he also fluffed another couple of opportunities which fell to him.
2. The Italians' midfield is something to fear
While Juventus may not be the strongest up front, one area of concern for Celtic must be the midfield three of Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo.
Arguably the best midfield outside of Barcelona, Juventus once again demonstrated their dominance in this area of the pitch against Fiorentina.
Pirlo, had an incredible Euro 2012 with Italy, and has carried this form into this season with the Bianconeri. He strolled through the match in his usual nonchalant way playing as a deep-lying playmaker.
The 'Regista' was able to pick and choose passes at will, threading balls through to Marchisio and Vidal, who provided support for the attack.
How Celtic choose to deal with Pirlo remains to be seen but they cannot let him assert his control in the middle of the pitch at Celtic Park.
Marchisio, meanwhile, will look to get forward and provide support for the strikers. His timing of the runs into the box is key and was unlucky not to score as he fizzed a shot narrowly wide of Viviano's post after good link up play with Vucinic.
3. Vidal is vital to Juve's quest for success
While much of the praise often goes to Pirlo, the Chilean has become one of Juventus' most consistent performers and further reinforced this with another top display against Fiorentina.
Vidal not only ensured Viola playmaker Borja Valero - who is third in the assist table in Serie A behind Napoli's Marek Hamsik and Roma's Francesco Totti - had a quiet evening, it was his individual brilliance which allowed Matri to give the hosts a two-goal cushion.
The assist had all the characteristics which epitomise the 25-year-old's game.
From the tenacity to win the ball in midfield, to the close control, strength and balance shown to ghost past the Fiorentina defence; and then the awareness and vision of other players around him to slide a pass into the feet of Matri.
But he does not only create chances, he takes them, too, as he is the club's joint-top goalscorer with 10 goals.
Vidal has already demonstrated his capabilities in the Champions League this season against Chelsea, where he single-handedly got Conte's men back into the match, despite appearing to twist his ankle in a challenge beforehand.
The former Bayer Leverkusen star is one of the best box-to-box midfielders around and Celtic will have to ensure he is suitably dealt with to prevent him from causing more damage to British clubs in Europe this season.
4. Antonio Conte’s men are fast starters
Since Antonio Conte came to the club, the emphasis has been on fitness, playing at a high tempo and pressing teams into mistakes.
Celtic have to be ready from the kick off as the Old Lady will not sit back and let the home side play.
Their match against Fiorentina typified this approach and they could have been ahead well before the 20-minute mark with Marchisio and Vucinic passing up good chances to take the advantage before the Montenegrin eventually found the net.
The midfield of Marchisio, Vidal and Pirlo stamped their authority early on in the game, dictating the tempo of the play, selecting when to move the ball and mixing up the range of passing enforcing their opposition to chase shadows.
But when they did not have possession, it was Vidal who showed his grit and determination to get it back, pressing and harassing players, forcing them into a mistake.
Crucially for Celtic they will need to keep things tight in the opening 20 minutes, as Juventus have scored twice before half-time in their last two games and it has been a feature of their season as a whole in general.
If not, it could be a long night for Neil Lennon's men.
5. Celtic must try to drag Juventus' central defenders out wide
Juventus' stuttering start to 2013 has not been helped by the absence of Italian international Giorgio Chiellini.
The club's vice captain had a tear in his right calf during December and is not expected to be back until the beginning of next month, meaning he will miss the first leg of the last 16 clash with Celtic.
Antonio Conte selected Andrea Barzagli, Luca Marrone and Federico Peluso for the Fiorentina encounter, but favoured centre-back Leonardo Bonucci is expected to return to the first team on Tuesday.
Juventus were rarely troubled by Montella's charges and this was largely down to Barzagli, who expertly marshaled his makeshift defence and ensured the Viola were restricted to long range efforts.
At home, Celtic will be expected to offer more in attack than what Fiorentina did.
And with Celtic's width this is a distinct possibility, as they can stretch the back three of Juventus, dropping balls in behind either full-backs, Stephan Lichtsteiner or Kwadwo Asamoah, (if back from the Africa Cup of Nations) for the Hoops' wingers to exploit the space.
The Bianconeri do not look comfortable when their centre-backs have to go out wide, and have been caught out a few times domestically without Chiellini's guidance.
The right ball into Gary Hooper from wide areas, and it could be another small step to a historic night in Europe for the Hoops.
Craig Turnbull is an award winning freelance football journalist and you can follow him on Twitter @CTTurnbull