Conte Masterclass Wins Inter Derby d’Italia Against Juventus

The Derby d’Italia is black-and-blue. Inter finally broke their Juventus taboo, overcoming their arch rivals on Sunday night after going win-less in the last six direct confrontations with the Old Lady.

Arturo Vidal and Nicolò Barella sealed the Nerazzurri 2-0 victory at the Stadio San Siro to maintain their second place in the Serie A table and keep breathing down Milan’s neck at 40 points – same as the Rossoneri who will face Cagliari tomorrow night.

Tonight’s win was Antonio Conte’s masterpiece – the Lecce coach finally able to beat the club where he won three Scudetto when he was in charge. Inter were flawless in closing any space to the Bianconeri and deadly to punish them on the counter, with Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolò Barella on the spot – as well as Arturo Vidal, who played his best game so far with the Nerazzurri jersey.

Inter lined themselves up with their 3-5-2 typical setup as Conte had all his ideal starters available. For Juventus, on the other hand, the formation was not the best Andrea Pirlo could hope for as Matthijs De Ligt, Juan Cuadrado, and Alex Sandro were still unavailable due to coronavirus.

Giorgio Chiellini returned from the start alongside Leonardo Bonucci in a back-four defense, with Danilo and Gianluca Frabotta deployed as full-backs. The surprise in Pirlo’s lineup was Adrien Rabiot instead of Weston McKennie in the middle of the park.

The Frenchman was quick to make his presence felt, however, as he was the first one to challenge Samir Handanovic. From the goalkeeper save, Federico Chiesa served Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese promptly slotted the ball home, but the assistant referee’s flag was up: The former Fiorentina man was offside.

Arturo Vidal’s effort two minutes later had better fortunes and brought the Nerazzurri ahead. The Chilean stood over Danilo to head the ball home from a fine Nicolò Barella cross and give Inter a good start.

During the warm-up, the Chilean was seeing joking with his former teammate Chiellini and kissing the Juve badge on his chest – an image that promptly became viral and drew some inevitable criticism from the black-and-blue social media sphere. Vidal’s reply to that was quite clear, we would argue.

Inter continued to be the better side and on 23 minutes went close to double their lead as Romelu Lukaku’s curling effort drew Wojciech Szczesny’s first save in the game. The Belgian was served by Barella, who recovered the ball in midfield and set the former United man free to shot.

Around the 30-minute mark, Alessandro Bastoni and Romelu Lukaku built another chance for the home side – though it was Lautaro Martinez to make a shiver run down the Bianconeri‘s spines with a right foot shot that missed the goal target by a few inches.

Nicolò Barella was an authentic scourge for the visitors. On 38 minutes, he run all along the right flank before servicing Lukaku – but the Inter cannoniere‘s conclusion, in this case, was unworthy of his fame. In any case, that made three chances in a row for the Nerazzurri, with the Bianconeri only able to reply with a long-range shot from Cristiano Ronaldo that gave Handanovic no cause for concern.

Eight minutes after the restart, Inter added another brick to their exploit – courtesy of a fabulous invention from Alessandro Bastoni. Inter’s center-back released Nicolò Barella with an astonishing 60-meter-long whipping cross and the Sardinian midfielder’s timing to catch it was perfect. Barella controlled the ball, then fired it past Szczesny to double the Nerazzurri‘s lead.

Andrea Pirlo’s counter-measures at that point were extreme as Dejan Kulusevski, Weston McKennie and Federico Bernardeschi were all sent in at the same time to replace Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and Gianluca Frabotta.

But Juventus’ performance continued to be befuddling, the Bianconeri continuously risking to be punished on the counter. On 70 minutes, Lautaro Martinez’s curl from the edge of the box caused yet more trouble to the Old Lady – which was lucky to see the effort crashing past the end line.

As minutes went by, Antonio Conte realized it was time to protect his lead. Matteo Darmian substituted Ashley Young on the left wing-back position, while Arturo Vidal was replaced by Roberto Gagliardini on 77 minutes.

It took 10 more minutes before one could finally see a scoring attempt from Juventus. It was Federico Chiesa who took the matter in his hands and tested Handanovic with a tricky right foot shot, but the Slovenian goalkeeper palmed the ball away to keep his sheet clean.

There were no more emotions as the curtains fell on one of the worst versions of Juventus seen this year, whereas Inter discovered themselves much stronger along the path towards the Scudetto. Milan are warned.



January 17, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 18

SCORERS: 12′ Vidal, 52′ Barella

INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skiniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal (76′ Gagliardini), Young (72′ Darmian); Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (85′ Sanchez) (Padelli, Radu, Kolarov, Sensi, Ranocchia, Perisic, Eriksen, Pinamonti) Coach: Conte
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Frabotta (57′ Bernardeschi); Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot (57′ McKennie), Ramsey (57′ Kulusevski); Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo (Buffon, Pinsoglio, Garofani, Demiral, Di Pardo, Dragusin, Arthur, Fagioli, Ranocchia) Coach: Pirlo

REFEREE: Mr. Doveri from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Young, Barella (I), Bonucci, Morata (J)