Inter remaining undefeated and maintaining the Serie A leadership was the highlight of a goalless Derby d’Italia. While Juventus initially crashed against the defensive wall organized by Lucky Luciano Spalletti, on the long run Massimiliano Allegri’s team gained courage, showed more quality, and played a perfect tactical game. Still, Inter could count on a superlative Samir Handanovic, and on a spectacular team organization.
Allegri proposed an offensive 4-3-3 module, confirming his choice of leaving Paulo Dybala out, and lining up Juan Cuadrado, Gonzalo Higuain, and Mario Mandzukic on the front line. On the other side, Spalletti went for a more defensive line 4-2-3-1, featuring lone striker Mauro Icardi supported by Antonio Candreva, Marcelo Brozovic, and Ivan Perisic.
The match seemed blocked from the beginning. Both teams decided to go for a quite high-pressuring tactic to call off their opponents’ play. On the Bianconeri side, Miralem Pjanic was unable to serve Higuain and the other strikers, while for the Nerazzurri Borja Valerio couldn’t organize his offensive play either, resulting in Inter barely passing their attacking third.
With Allegri and Spalletti both taking little risk, the game couldn’t get too exciting. Both teams paid more attention to avoiding mistakes, rather than finding the goal – which didn’t benefit the Argentinian strikers, Icardi and Higuain, on either side. During the first half, only two attempts to score can be mentioned, both by Mario Mandzukic. Eight minutes into the game, he called Handanovic to an important save with a shot from the left side of the box. Then, at the 45th minutes, he caught a cross by Cuadrado, and delivered a precise header that hit the crossbar.
While the first half was quite boring, the second one offered something more. Juventus raised their pace and rhythm, as Inter started to suffer but managed to stay in the game. Mandzukic had again another chance to convert a cross by Cuadrado into a goal, but his shot was weak, and was easily captured by Handanovic. A few minutes later, the Croatian striker tried again to beat Inter’s Slovenian goalie from outside the box – with a similar outcome.
On the other side of the pitch, Mauro Icardi and Inter demanded a penalty at the 54th minute, when Mehdi Benatia touched the ball with his hand. Referee Paolo Valeri, supported by the VAR, said no: The ball firstly hit Benatia’s foot, and then his hand.
Spalletti lost Davide Santon for an injury, and sent in in Dalbert Henrique to limit an unstoppable Cuadrado. The Brazilian did his part and, with the clock striking minute 68, deflected into corner a dangerous shot by Sami Khedira. Then Spalletti pulled out also Antonio Candreva for Roberto Gagliardini, while Allegri tried to go for the three points sending in La Joya Paulo Dybala. But nothing changed in the end, and Inter left the Allianz Stadium unbeaten, and with a precious point that – with Napoli held to a goalless draw by Fiorentina – kept them at the top of Serie A.
December 9, 2017 – Serie A 2017-18 Round 16
|JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Benatia, Chiellini, Asamoah; Khedira (75’ Dybala), Pjanic (85’ Bentancur), Matuidi; Cuadrado, Higuain, Mandzukic (Pinsoglio, Loria, Barzagli, Rugani, Alex Sandro, Marchisio, Sturaro, Douglas Costa, Bernardeschi) Coach: Allegri|
|INTER (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Santon (63’ Dalbert); Vecino, Borja Valero; Candreva (69′ Gagliardini), Brozovic, Perisic; Icardi (85’ Eder) (Padelli, Berni, Cancelo, Ranocchia, Nagatomo, Joao Mario, Karamoh, Pinamonti) Coach: Spalletti|
REFEREE: Mr. Valeri from Rome
NOTES: Attendance: 41000; Yellow Cards: Benatia, Higuain (J), Brozovic, Perisic, Santon, D’Ambrosio, Vecino (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 1’, 2nd Half 3’.