Preview: Inter vs Juventus – Fundamentally Important Derby d’Italia for Both Sides
The Nerazzurri host arch nemeses the Bianconeri in a match that may play a pivotal role in how both sides’ seasons end. Match on Saturday at 20:45CET
Inter host the Derby D’Italia in a most inopportune moment for their visitors. Since crashing out of the Champions League quarter finals against Real Madrid in the most unsavory of manners, Juventus have gone on a poor run of form that has seen them let Napoli back into the title race. The Nerazzurri on the other hand continue to sit just one point behind the Roman teams in the race for the third and fourth spot. All of this sets the normally contentious match in especially critical light.
Despite having almost lost the lead to Chievo last week, Inter still managed to take all three points from a normally difficult away match against a relegation battling side. This was particularly important since it was the fist match Inter started without Spaletti’s newfound high-performing midfield trio of Rafinha, Marcelo Brozovic and Roberto Galgiardini owing to the latter’s injury he picked up the previous week. We learnt that the midfield module, with Borja Valero stepping in for the injured Gags, is nowhere as effective and as dynamic as when the Italian is on the pitch. As such, expect the returning Matias Vecino to be deployed instead of Valero.
It is clear that shutting down the flanks, while simultaneously marking Miralem Pjanic out of the midfield eliminates a large portion of the Bianconeri threat. Danilo D’Ambrosio and Joao Cancelo will have to deal with the tricky runs of Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic, while the midfield wide-men must keep an eye on the overlapping runs of the ever-threatening Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado. Should Brozovic and Vecino then impose their will on the remaining Juve midfielders, this will allow Rafinha to float into open spaces in between the lines as he usually enjoys to link up play with the forward three.
As noted above, the only injury Luciano Spaletti has to account for is that of Roberto Gagliardini. It also appears that the impressive Yann Karamoh will continue to be preferred on the right side of attack ahead of Antonio Candreva, while Uruguay international Vecino picjed ahead of Valero in the middle of the pitch.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Skriniar; Cancelo, Vecino, Brozovic, Santon; Perisic, Karamoh; Icardi (C)
Last Season: Inter 2 – 1 Juventus
Last 10 Head to Head: Inter have only managed to beat Juventus just once in the two sides’ last ten matches, while the Bianconeri have managed to take all three points away from Inter on five occasions. Interestingly, Inter have not lost at home to Juve in the league since May of 2015.
Keep an Eye on
Mauro Icardi: The young Inter captain continues his hunt for the capocannoniere title this season, and there’s no better way to add to his tally than against Juve. The injury to Juventus defensive talisman Giorgio Chiellini will only add fuel to Icardi’s fire and hopefully this means that Maurito can hand Inter the three points and put us back in the driver’s seat for a UCL finish.
Refereree: Daniele Orsato
Assistants: Di Fiore, Manganelli
Fourth Official: Tagliavento
Additional Assistants: Valeri, Galliatini
Prediction & Authors Note
Prediction & scorers: Inter 2 – 1 Juventus with Icardi and Perisic on the score-sheet.
Author’s Note: The possibility of not only beating Juve but also derailing their title aspirations while simultaneously keeping the pressure on both Roman teams in the race for the Champions League spots makes this Derby D’Italia one of the most important renditions of this fixture in years.