The top two of the 2019-20 Serie A are set to clash on Sunday night, as leaders Inter Milan host second-placed Juventus at the Guiseppe Meazza Stadium.
One of the most anticipated matches of Serie A will be coming our way this weekend as current league leaders Inter Milan take on bitter rivals and reigning champions Juventus.
Inter Milan have made a blazing start to their 2019-20 Serie A campaign. Under new manager Antonio Conte, the Nerazzurri have made a perfect start to the season, winning all of their six league games so far. They defeated Sampdoria 3-1 in their last league game, but succumbed to a 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this week.
Conte and his men will be keen on bouncing back from that defeat to extend their winning start in the league. But, it will be anything but easy for the hosts when they take on current title holders Juventus this weekend.
Maurizio Sarri’s side are second in the Serie A table, two points shy of their opponents on Sunday and will be intent on knocking Inter off their perch to take the top spot for themselves. Unbeaten in all competitions so far this term (W6 D2), the Bianconeri defeated SPAL 2-0 in the league last time out and followed it up with a 3-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen in Europe this week.
Ahead of this blockbuster Serie A clash between the champions and the challengers on Sunday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both sides.
Team News & Tactics
The Nerazzurri will be without the services of Manchester United loanee Alexis Sanchez due to suspension, after the Chilean was sent off against Sampdoria last weekend. Romelu Lukaku missed the game against Barcelona with a muscle injury, but should be available for Sunday’s clash.
Antonio Conte is unlikely to make a lot of changes to the side that took the field against Barcelona. Club captain Samir Handanovic is a certain starter between the sticks for Inter Milan, while the three-man backline of Diego Godin, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar is expected to remain intact as well.
Marcelo Brozovic will be tasked with breaking up play in the centre of the park for the home team. Stefano Sensi has become an indispensable figure in midfield for Inter and is certain to feature from kick-off. Nicolo Barella, Roberto Gagliardini and Matias Vecino will compete for the third slot in the middle, although Conte is likely to stick with Barella once again.
Kwadwo Asamoah should start as the left-sided wing-back for Inter Milan, while the right wing-back slot will be a toss-up between Antonio Candreva and Danilo D’Ambrosio. However, having started with the former against Barcelona, Conte is likely to switch it up on Sunday night.
Lukaku has trained with the team ahead of the game and should return to lead the attack for the Nerazzurri against Juventus. He will be partnered by Argentine international Lautaro Martinez.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Godin, de Vrij, Skriniar; D’Ambrosio, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Asamoah; Martinez, Lukaku
The reigning champions will continue to be without the services of defensive mainstay Giorgio Chiellini, while full-backs Mattia De Sciglio and Danilo are also sidelined, along with Marko Pjaca and Douglas Costa. Sarri is likely to make a couple of changes to the side that started against Bayer Leverkusen in the midweek clash.
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Wojciech Szczesny is set to resume his duties in goal, while Juan Cuadrado should continue to deputise at right-back in the absence of Danilo and De Sciglio. Alex Sandro, who missed the last league game due to personal reasons, returned against Barcelona and should hold on to his spot at left-back. Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt will pair up at the heart of the defence.
The midfield diamond has worked well for Sarri in recent games and he is expected to stick with the same formation against Inter on Sunday. Miralem Pjanic will start at the base and will be in-charge of dictating the tempo of the game. Blaise Matuidi is guaranteed to feature once again, but Sami Khedira could make way for Adrien Rabiot against Inter.
Summer signing Aaron Ramsey should return to the starting XI, replacing Federico Bernardeschi at the tip of the midfield. He will be the chief creative force for the side and will be key in supporting the strike partnership of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, both of whom scored against Bayer Leverkusen. Paulo Dybala will once again start on the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, de Ligt, Sandro; Pjanic; Rabiot, Matuidi; Ramsey; Higuain, Ronaldo
- Inter Milan have been victorious in only one of their last 13 Serie A meetings with Juventus (D5 L7) – a 2-1 win in September 2016 under Frank de Boer.
- Juventus have won more Serie A matches against Inter than any other opponent, winning 82 of their 172 such meetings (D44 L46).
- Inter have won more home top-flight games against Juventus (35/86) and scored more home goals against them (134) than any other club has managed on home soil against the Bianconeri.
- With 2004-05 and 2005-06 the only exceptions, in 16 of the 18 seasons in which Juventus have won at least five of their first six Serie A games, they have eventually lifted the league title.
- Neither Juventus nor Inter have scored in the opening 15 minutes of play in Serie A this season. Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri are the only team yet to concede a single goal in the first half of matches in the competition so far.
Player to Watch
Having completed a high-profile transfer from Manchester United to Inter Milan this past summer, Romelu Lukaku has made a solid start to life in Italy. The 26-year-old has scored three goals in his six Serie A appearances so far and has looked the part in Antonio Conte’s team.
However, during his time in England, Lukaku was constantly criticized for not performing consistently against the big teams. The Belgian often came short against the ‘Big Six’ teams in England and in Juventus, he will be facing his biggest test in Italy till date.
Lukaku has scored in a high-pressure game in the derby against AC Milan already this season. And he will be hoping to shed the tag of being a big-game bottler with a match-winning performance against Juventus this weekend.
Inter Milan 1-1 Juventus
Inter Milan have made a brilliant start to the 2019-20 Serie A campaign and have won all their league matches till date. But, their performances in Europe have shown that they are still not the finished article in the image of new manager Antonio Conte.
The same goes for Juventus as well, who are yet to fully find their footing under new manager Maurizio Sarri. But, they seem to have found some rhythm in recent games and will be in confident mood after the midweek win, as they look to clinch the top spot from the Nerazzurri.
Matches between these two sides are always tightly contested and it will be no different on Sunday night when they step out at the Guiseppe Meazza. Goalscoring opportunities could be in short supply, with most of the game likely to be fought out in the middle of the park. And we at The Hard Tackle are expecting this one to end in a 1-1 draw.