San Siro, Milan
April 30, 2013
Juventus and Inter square off in the Derby D’Italia with different objectives. The defending champions are favourites to lift a second consecutive scudetto and are bound to approach this match with an eye on a potentially epic clash against Bayern Munich in mid-week. The Nerazzurri meanwhile, are rapidly losing ground for the race to a top-3 finish. Things were radically different when these two sides met for the first time this season. Andrea Stramaccioni outthought Juventus assistant coach Alessio, then standing in for suspended Antonio Conte, as Inter inflicted a painful and comprehensive 3-1 home defeat to Juventus. Inter were lauded as scudetto contenders after that victory but their form withered away gradually.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Inter’s form in 2013 has been patchy, at best. They have lost two of their last five matches and won twice. Stramaccioni’s team did show some admirable qualities against Tottenham Hotspur recently as they almost overturned a 3-0 deficit before going down to an away goal. Inter’s defence has been especially suspect and their record of letting in 37 goals in 28 matches is the worst among top-6 teams. In-form striker Diego Milito’s season ending injury hasn’t helped them either.
The Nerazzurri are likely to start in the 4-3-1-2 formation with Samir Handanovic in goal. Ageless Javier Zanetti had an especially good game when Inter defeated Juventus in Turin. The Argentine would once again need to replicate that performance if Inter are to keep Italy’s second highest scoring side out. The central defensive pairing of Andrea Ranocchia and Christian Chivu has often been error prone and will be one of Inter’s biggest weaknesses.
Inter’s three man midfield will contain winter signing Kovacic, flanked by the hugely experienced South American pair of Walter Gargano and Esteban Cambiasso. Like his compatriot, Cambiasso also played a very important role when Inter defeated Juventus 3-1. His combative performance in midfield neutralized Andrea Pirlo and at the same time sparked off Inter’s fightback despite going down early. The 18 year old Kovacic has played seven times for Inter till now and it will be interesting to see how the youngster handles the pressure of a Derby D’Italia.
Freddy Guarin is slowly inching towards the form he showed in Villas-Boas’ Porto side after a rough start to his Inter career. The Colombian was a game changer in the Milan derby and he also played an important part in Inter’s second goal against Juventus in November. In Milito’s absence, who scored a brace in the away fixture, Antonio Cassano will team up with Rodrigo Palacio upfront.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Handanovic; Zanetti, Ranocchia, Chivu, Pereira; Gargano, Kovacic, Cambiasso; Guarin; Palacio, Cassano
There have been talks all week about Antonio Conte trying out a 3-5-1-1 formation to counter Bayern Munich’s midfield in mid-week. The commonly cited version contains Claudio Marchisio in an advanced position playing a sort of link-man between a lone striker and rest of the midfield. French starlet Paul Pogba is expected to fill in for Marchisio in central midfield. Juventus are likely to retain the 3-5-2 formation for this match though.
Kwadwo Asamoah had an especially torrid time against Javier Zanetti the first time these two teams met. Zanetti stopped Asamoah’s runs in first half before pushing him back in the second and nullifying one of the wings completely. Asamoah hasn’t really recovered his form since then but Federico Peluso’s suspension, who has already handled a pressure cooker situation in San Paolo means that Asmaoah is sure to start. Stefan Lichtsteiner also had a forgettable game in first leg but he is carrying a strong run of form to this match.
Mirko Vucinic is likely to be rested for this encounter along with Giorgio Chiellini, who missed Italy’s matches due to an ankle injury. Luca Marrone will replace Chiellini in defence in that case as Martin Caceres is yet to reach full fitness after his car crash couple of weeks back. In Vucinic’s absence Sebastien Giovinco will partner Alessandro Matri. The Giovinco-Matri combo can cause a number of problems to an Inter defence which has often been caught flat footed recently. Matri’s positioning and ability make runs off the last defender’s shoulder, combined with Giovinco’s speed will be one the main ways for Juventus to unlock the Inter defence.
Possible Starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Marrone; Lichtsteiner, Pirlo, Marchisio, Vidal, Asamoah; Giovinco, Matri
Zanetti v Asamoah
Juventus left wing-backs usually provide ample defensive cover but don’t always bring enough attacking thrust. Zanetti’s performance in Turin was one of the deciding factors when the teams met for the first time this season and Juve left-wing backs will need to do a more competent job in this match.
Vidal v Cambiasso
The vastly experienced Argentine has been a driving force behind Inter for a long time but is likely to have his task cut out against one of the most lethal central midfielders in Europe right now. Vidal was not called up for International duty which will mean that he will completely fresh and well rested against Inter and that can make all the difference.
Players To Watch Out For
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
The ex-Cagliari striker has probably been the most in-form Juventus attacker in the New Year and has also scored in Champions League. Matri still doesn’t find regular place in Antonio Conte’s side and he will try to make use of this opportunity fully. His positioning and poacher’s instincts may prove to be invaluable against an Inter defence which often leaves opponent strikers poorly marked.
Rodrigo Palacio (Inter)
The Argentine has been Inter’s most prolific striker in Milito’s absence. He played a major part in Inter’s come-back win against Catania, the last time they won a Serie A match and also found the net against Juventus in Turin. Juventus have shown some signs of weakness on the left side in Chiellini’s absence and Palacio will be looking to exploit that.
Inter 1-1 Juventus
Juve’s main focus is likely to be on the mid-week Champions league match and the Old Lady may take a more conservative approach against Inter. This may turn into a cagey and tactical match with midfields cancelling each other.