Inter would be ‘doing Juventus a favour’ if they beat them in tonight’s Derby d’Italia, at least if you ask Nicola Berti.
The Nerazzurri have the chance to strike a huge blow to Juventus’ chances of UEFA Champions League qualification with victory at the Allianz Stadium.
Andrea Pirlo’s side will be desperate to beat Inter and reclaim a spot in Serie A’s top four, but Berti thinks they would be better off missing out on Europe’s top competition.
“If Juventus go into the Champions League, they won’t have a rebuild,” Inter’s former midfielder told Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.
“But that’s what they need in order to become competitive again in the next few years.
“I’m joking when I say we’d be doing them a favour by beating them, but if you think about it it’s actually a good point.
“I won’t cheer for Juventus tonight, never in my life would I do that, but it’s true: I hope Juventus qualify for the Champions League.
“If they do, they’ll stay at this level for a while and they won’t immediately get back to being a threat.
“With Europa League qualification they could become more dangerous quicker.
“I’m the least Juventino of all, but this is a scenario I like (them finishing in the top four)… just don’t start telling people I’m a Juventus fan.”
Antonio Conte is unlikely to share Berti’s philosophical point of view when he faces his former club tonight, because everyone seems convinced that he wants to get one over on Juventus.
“He cares about beating them, he really cares,” Berti said.
“He cared in the reverse fixture as well, and what a win that was (2-0 at San Siro) with a goal from the former Juventus player Arturo Vidal.
“He’s only scored once in the league and it came against Juventus…”
Asked if Conte had become an Interista during the last two years in charge at Inter, Berti argued: “You always become a supporter of whatever team you join, but Inter is Inter.
“There’s no team comparable to Inter, they’re not like Chelsea.”
Away from tonight’s match, Berti also doubled down on his praise for Nicolo Barella by urging Inter to make him their next captain after Samir Handanovic.
“It’s only fair Handanovic keeps the armband for one or two more seasons, but then it has to go to Barella,” he insisted.
“Barella has improved so much by coming to Inter, and his journey has been similar to mine.
“When I played for Fiorentina I picked up lots of yellow and red cards, but then with the Nerazzurri I had much fewer.
“Barella was always getting booked in his first season at Inter, but now he’s improving that part of his game.
“I think the ideal captain should play in midfield, because there always needs to be some kind of dialogue with the referee and he needs to compact the team.
“It’s harder to do that when you’re playing in goal.”
Barella is often compared to Berti for his tenacity and popularity in midfield, but Berti admitted: “He can achieve even more than me.
“He couldn’t have started better at Inter; he’s brilliant and I adore him.”