Stadio Olimpico Di Torio, Turin
One of the bitterest rivalries in world football will resume, when Internazionale travel to Turin to take on Juventus. The clash of these two clubs is referred to as “Derby D’Italia” or “the derby of Italy” a term coined by legendary journalist Gianni Brera. Matches between two of the most successful teams in Italian football rarely ends without controversies. The first leg ended in a 0-0 draw – this was the first stalemate in over a decade and the first draw since 2005. Inter has rediscovered its form under new gaffer Leonardo while Juve earned a moral boosting win in the last match. The stage is set for another highly charged Derby D’Italia.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Juve started 2011 with expectations of a top-3 finish but things went haywire in the new year. After disappointing losses to Parma, Napoli and Roma, the Bianconeri went down 2-0 at Palermo within first half an hour. However, the second half produced a much improved performance and Juve pulled a goal back. They played well enough to earn a point in that match. The good form was carried to the Cagliari match where Alessandro Matri came back to haunt his old side with two well taken goals. Luca Toni ended a wonderful night for the Old Lady with an incredible header from 18 yards out. Toni not only scored his first Juve goal but also notched up his 100th Serie A goal. The most important part of the Cagliari match was that Juve looked in control of the proceedings for a large part of 90 minutes.
Time for another Matri masterclass ?
Some sources are reporting that Juve might field a 4-3-3 formation for this game but its unlikely that Delneri will change his tried and tested 4-4-2. Against Cagliari, Giorgio Chiellini was played in his natural position of left-back, while Barzagli and Bonucci paired up as centre-backs. The same pattern followed in Italy’s 1-1 draw with Germany in mid-week where Andrea Rannochia took the place of Bonucci. The right-back position still remains a weakness for Juve. None of the right backs fielded till now have shown signs of shoring up the defence. There is a chance that veteran Hasan Salihamidzic will start as a right-back.
Claudio Marchisio, perhaps Juve’s most consistent player in 2011, suffered a knock against Cagliari and it is still unclear if he will start. If he does start then he will play in his usual position of a left winger. Chiellini’s assuring presence at left-back position freed Marchisio to move forward more and enabled Juve to have an extra man upfront. Marchisio also shut down Maicon completely in the first leg. He will be crucial player for Juve. Alberto Aquilani’s form in 2011 has been very ordinary but he showed glimpses of his genius for Italy in mid-week. He will be partnered by Felipe Melo. Melo’s marking on Wes Sneijder was one of the key highlights in the match in San Siro. Milos Krasic’s sharp drop of form has hurt Juve in last 2 months. The Serbian has played one whole season in Russia before joining Juve – he has been looking very tired. Pace is the main attribute of his game and his fatigue has affected his and his team’s form.
For the first time this season Delneri will be able to choose among his four strikers. Iaquinta is finally fit while Toni, Del Piero and Matri played in last match. Matri is assured of a starting spot while Del Piero is likely to get a nod because of his experience and quality. Toni can come on as an impact sub.
Possible XI (4-4-2): Buffon; Grygera, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Krasic, Melo, Aquilani, Marchisio; Del Piero, Matri
Inter, treble winners last season, looked like a mere shadow under Rafa Benitez. It was a matter of time before Papa Moratti brought in a new coach – which was former Milan manager Leonardo, surprisingly. Under Leonardo Inter has turned around their form, winning most games and playing some scintillating football in the process. In last match they dispatched AS Roma 5-3 in an exciting match. New signings Kharja and Pazzini have settled in quickly, while Maicon is finally showing the form which made him the best full-back in the world last season.
Inter is likely to start with a 4-3-1-2 formation. Lucio and Walter Samuel is out for this match, and hence, Andrea Rannochia is likely to be partnered by veteran Oscar Cordoba. Ageless Javier Zanetti and Maicon will start on the flanks. There is a chance of new signing Nagatomo starting as left-back, but the Japanese lack experience of such high profile encounters.
Kharja, Thiago Motta and Cambiassio will form a solid but unspectacular three man midfield. Motta – Cambiasso combination was especially successful last season, successfully shutting down the likes of Lionel Messi. Against Juve their main job will be to neutralize Aquilani. The main creative spark will be provided by Wesley Senijder. Sneijder’s form in first half of the season had been very erratic, the Dutch struggled to reach the dizzy heights of last season. However, under a manager with more attacking mentality, Sneijder has regained his touch.
Eto’o – One of the most dangerous strikers in Serie A
Inter’s main strength lies in its forward line where Samuel Eto’o and Pazzini form one of the most fearsome partnerships in Serie A. Diego Milito’s form had been terrible under Bentiez but in last few matches he has been showing signs of recovery. Pazzini scored a brace on his debut, leading Inter to a splendid win over Palermo. Eto’o forms a perfect foil for Pazzini with his darting runs from the wings. He is a proven performer in big games and will be the biggest threat to an often disorganized Juve defence.
Possible XI (4-3-1-2): Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba, Rannochia, Zanetti; Kharja, Cambiasso, Motta; Sneijder; Pazzini, Eto’o
Felipe Melo vs Wesley Sneijder
Melo has often marked out opponent team’s main playmaker this season. He will be given the job to keep Sneijder at bay. After the red card against Parma Melo’s performances have been solid but less flashy while Sneijder too is back in form now. Inter’s midfield lacks a good passer and Sneijder is their main creator. If Melo manages to mark him out then the supply to Pazzini-Eto’o will be disrupted.
Giorgio Chiellini vs Samuel Eto’o
Under Mourinho last season Eto’o often played on the wings in a 4-2-1-3 and did it successfully. His pace and ability to beat his marker makes him one of the most lethal strikers in the world. If there is any open space in the wings he will exploit it and create havoc by cutting in. His goal scoring form has been impressive this season so Chiellini cannot afford to make any mistakes. The Italian is more than capable of handling a striker like Eto’o and how he deals with Eto’o might ultimately determine outcome of this match.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
The Cagliari man has made instant impact in Juventus with two good performances in first two matches. His positioning and pace will make him a threat to a slightly weakened Inter backline. Cordoba is past his prime now and he struggles against pacy strikers while Rannochia is still pretty inexperienced. Matri’s combination with Del Piero can create panic in Inter defence.
Samuel Eto’o (Internazionale)
Eto’o is a proven big match player and he thrives when the occasion is as big as the Derby D’Italia. His sudden acceleration and poacher instincts are a threat to any team and Juve’s defenders may struggle to deal with Eto’o’s darting runs from the flanks.
Juventus 2-1 Internazionale
Leonardo’s emphasis on playing attacking football might make his team suffer in this match. Delneri is a very tactical coah and he can outthink his counter part. If Juve manage to neutralize Inter’s strikers then there is a good chance of them winning this tie.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST