The headline for the Derby D’Italia was made within the first few minutes when Juventus took the lead, 18 seconds after the kick off, through a controversial goal, adding fuel to the fixing allegations by the conspiracy theorists in Serie A.
Inter’s defence opened up when Mirko Vucinic rolled the ball towards an onrushing Asamoah. Although Asamoah looked offside in the replays, the linesman wasn’t convinced. Asamoah’s cross was met by Vidal as Juventus raced to a lead even before spectators in Juventus stadium had settled down. Juventus having started the match at a frenetic pace, carving out clear-cut chances in the first ten minutes. Vucinic failed to capitalize on one occasion while the Pirlo-Claudio-Marchisio combination created two scoring opportunities in the space of few seconds.
Marchisio’s first chance came after he perfectly sprung Inter’s offside trap to meet a chipped pass from Pirlo, but saw his volley saved by Handanovic. Inter struggled to cope with Juve’s pressing high up the pitch in the beginning, but gradually clawed their way back under Cambiasso. The Argentine peppered the Juventus goal with shots before seeing his assist to Palacio being chalked off for offside. After a scintillating start to the game, both teams found it difficult to create any real penetration and created few half chances throughout the first half. Stefan Lichtsteiner was lucky to have escaped a red card after a wild challenge on Palacio.
Inter were the stronger side in second half. Juventus chose to introduce Nicklas Bendtner taking Vucinic off. The Nerazzuri pulled level when Diego Milito scored from spot. Yuta Nagatomo, possibly Inter’s best player on the night raked up a well deserved assist as Palacio killed off any chance of a late comeback. Inter’s second goal marked the difference in the end as Juventus was caught on the counter attack.
Inter started the match with a 3-4-3 formation and tried to negate the additional width wing-backs give Juventus in their 3-5-2 . Stramacionni’s tactics paid off partially as Nagatomo, time and again, stretched Juventus on the right-wing. Cambiasso brought on his big-match experience, holding up against Vidal and Pirlo in admirable fashion.
Vidal’s early goal (and his goal last weekend) gave him greater impetus to push forward leaving gaps in the central midfield which was exploited by Cambiasso. With Marchisio pushing up as well, Pirlo was isolated in the middle having been pressed by the Inter midfield, resulting in a number of miss passes among Juventus midfielders as the match progressed. In final third Cassano was given a free role as he drifted in and out of the wings and tried to find gaps in a Juventus defence strongly led by Chiellini. Milito acted as the fulcrum upfront with Palacio and Cassano both dropping deeper as Inter often switched to a 3-4-2-1 in attack.
In the second half, an important substitution came when a rapidly tiring Cassano was replaced by Guarin. The Colombian’s movement caused further problems to the Juventus defence which had to stretched, leaving gaps at the back, while pushing up for a second goal. It was Guarin’s shot that led to Inter’s second goal as Diego Milito scored a perfect poacher’s goal.
Juventus’ 3-5-2 formation failed to impress against Inter because of numerous reasons. Mirko Vucinic had a complete off day – he didn’t get involved enough in the inter-play and was often the most static player when Juventus broke with some deadly one-touch attacking moves in the first few minutes. He was replaced by Bendtner in second half and Juve’s attack looked even more static.
With the introduction of Bendtner, Juventus were more focused on lunching aerial balls in the opposition’s box. The lack of a good crosser in the team meant that most of the crosses were easily cleared by Walter Samuel while Bendtner’s lack of movement made the Bianconeri attack even less convincing than before. Also, with Lichtsteiner having a complete off-day, it helped Nagatomo grow stronger as the match progressed. The Japanese was a constant threat to the opposition defenders and even the introduction of Caceres couldn’t stop his forays into Juventus defence.
Invariably, Juventus wing-play was extremely lopsided. Asamoah, who is not a natural wing-back, was the only source to provide width. Asamoah did cause some problems in first half but was gradually nullified by the immense experience of ever-green Zanetti. Paul Pogba could have acted as a positive catalyst but Inter’s second goal, before his introduction, meant Alessio had to modify his tactics. Despite scoring the goal, Vidal didn’t have the best of the games being unable to create any impending pressure on the Inter midfield, with pressing down on the players. As the match progressed Cambiasso and co. took control of the central midfield, a rarity in Juventus games since last season.
Inter’s win might have thrown Serie A wide open. The aura of invincibility that surrounded Juventus has now diminished. For the first time a team has come to the new Juventus stadium, scored three goals and taken away three points. For the Old Lady this match will give rise to a number of questions and Antonio Conte might need some introspection. Their biggest head-ache will be to find a solution for their regularly misfiring forward line. Sebastien Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic have performed well in patches but none of them look good enough for a club looking to challenge for multiple titles. The squad rotation is also a matter of concern as the Marchisio-Vidal-Pirlo trident has often looked fatigued this season.
This match can very well signal the beginning of a new era for Inter. Andrea Stramaccioni has shown tactical maturity beyond his years and Massimo Moratti should be wise to rely on him in long-term. Just like Juventus last season, Inter have established themselves as a title contender, out of the blue and can also afford to focus entirely on Serie A this season. With Sneijder coming back from injury, this Inter side can only become stronger and they can challenge the hegemony of Juventus in Conte era. Juventus Juventus
In 1974 World Cup final, The Netherlands famously scored the opening goal before a West German player had touched the ball. The German fight back has now become a stuff of legends. Inter trailed similarly yesterday before clawing their way back. It remains to be seen if they can repeat the title success of that German team.