In Italian football, the term “Derby” is usually reserved for inner-city contests, or at the very least, fixtures played between two clubs hailing from the same region. Nevertheless, a few selected clashes earned the “Derby” tag despite lacking the aforementioned geographic requirements, and chief among them is the Derby d’Italia contested between Juventus and Inter.
Alongside Milan, these two Serie A giants have established themselves as the most successful clubs in the country. But what truly distinguishes this fixture from other top showdowns is the level of intensity it evokes on the pitch, on the sidelines and obviously in the stands.
From the the lost Ronaldo penalty kick to the 5th of May and of course, the infamous Calciopoli trial, decades of controversial incidents have fueled this eternal rivalry.
Even today, one can sense the level of passion, intensity and ferocity almost every time the Bianconeri and Nerazzurri share the same pitch.
So before the two clubs renew their rivalry in an early Scudetto showdown on Sunday night, let’s review five of the most heated clashes between Juventus and Inter over the last few years.
5. Inter 2-1 (AET) Juventus (Italian Super Cup, 2021/22)
While the Italian Super Cup is usually held either on a neutral ground or in Rome, Juventus fans were left baffled by the decision to play this edition at the home of the arch-rivals, the iconic Giuseppe Meazza Stadium.
Yet, Massimiliano Allegri was still determined to lift his first trophy following his return to Turin, and his team was off to a brilliant start, with Weston McKennie nodding the ball home. However, this lead didn’t last long, as Lautaro Martinez equalized for Inter from the spot before the half-time break.
The score remained intact in the second period, sending the match to extra time, and this is when things gradually began to heat up. Both sides were committing rough challenges, and neither team was willing to take too many risks.
Nevertheless, a blunder at the back from Daniele Rugani and Alex Sandro allowed Alexis Sanchez to snatch the winner in the 121st minute, much to the delight of the Nerazzurri supporters.
Nevertheless, Inter’s general secretary Cristiano Mozzillo ecstatically celebrated too close to an enraged Leonardo Bonucci who was preparing to take the field and participate in the penalty shoutouts.
In his fury, the defender grabbed the Nerazzurri official and casually threatened to kill him!
Luckily, this didn’t escalate into an open melee, as cooler heads managed to contain this blemishing incident.
4. Juventus 0-0 Inter (Coppa Italia Semi-Final 2nd Leg, 2020/21)
What’s interesting about those Derby d’Italia incidents is that it isn’t exclusive to players.
On the contrary, managers, directors and even presidents are all welcome to join the mayhem, as evidenced by the bizarre altercation that took place at the Allianz Stadium in February 2021 during the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final
As we all know, Antonio Conte left Juventus on poor terms in 2014, and joining Inter in 2019 only rubbed salt in the wound.
The animosity between the manager and then-Juventus president Andrea Agnelli had been brewing for years, and it all erupted in an ugly row while the coach was heading to the tunnel at half-time.
During the Covid-19 era, the empty stadiums made all comments and hurls easily heard. Angelli and co made some remarks about Conte and his constant complaints against refereeing decisions which obviously reached the latter’s ears.
Never one to hold back from a fight, the Lecce native showed his former boss the middle finger, prompting insults from the Juventus patron.
This hideous row was the main highlight of a goalless draw that saw the Bianconeri reach the final thanks to a 2-1 win in the first leg.
3. Juventus 3-2 Inter (Serie A Round 37, 2020/21)
When Inter traveled to Turin on the penultimate round of the season, they had already clinched their first Scudetto title in eleven years, simultaneously ending their rivals’ nine-year dominance over Italian football.
Yet, dethroning Juventus wasn’t enough for the resurging Inter. They took the field at the Allianz Stadium with the intention of ending the hosts’ hope of reaching the next edition of the Champions League. A draw would have sufficed.
This set the stage for a thrilling contest despite the absence of the supporters in the stands.
The chaotic affair witnessed five goals, three spot kicks, an own-goal and two red cards. But when the dust finally settled, Juan Cuadrado emerged as the ultimate hero who dragged Juventus toward the finish line with a personal brace.
The Colombian’s exploits include winning and converting a late penalty kick at the time when Andrea Pirlo’s men were playing with a numerical disadvantage following Rodrigo Bentancur’s dismissal.
Ironically, Cuadrado stunned Juventus fans by switching allegiance in the summer. Therefore, he returns as a conqueror this weekend, even though he’s unlikely to take the pitch having just returned from an injury.
2. Inter 2-3 Juventus (Serie A Round 35, 2017/18)
Like the previous entry, Juventus prevailed by three goals to two following some late drama at San Siro. Nevertheless, the stakes were significantly higher on that occasion, with the Old Lady’s long reign coming under major threat for the first time in many years.
Even though Inter weren’t involved in the title race, one could have easily mistaken it for a direct Scudetto showdown based on the hosts’ great determination. In reality, Napoli were the ones breathing down Juve’s neck in the Serie A standings following a glorious win in Turin on the previous weekend.
Therefore, a defeat in Milano could have easily demolished the morale in the black-and-white camp, offering the Southerners a clear path toward a long-awaited triumph.
To this day, Inter fans still argue that Miralem Pjanic should have been sent off for a nasty challenge on Ivan Perisic. Yet, the Bosnian midfielder remained on the pitch, while the Nerazzurri played with a man down for the majority of the match due to Matias Vecino’s early dismissal.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Inter managed to turn the result upside-down and take a 2-1 lead, much to Napoli’s delight.
Had Luciano Spalletti’s men held on to the final whistle, they would have claimed credit for their part in ending Juve’s winning dynasty.
But in a twist of fate, the Bianconeri displayed the champion’s true spirit, scoring twice in the dying minutes through Cuadrado and Higuain to claim the win that ultimately revitalized their title hopes.
The disheartened Napoli could only watch the frantic action unfold from their hotel rooms, before collapsing at the hands of Fiorentina on the next day.
In Italy, this is best remembered as the Scudetto title that Napoli lost in a Tuscan hotel.
1. Juventus 1-1 Inter (Coppa Italia Semi-Final 1st Leg, 2022/23)
While controversial refereeing decisions and good-old banter between the two sets of fans is a part of the Derby d’Italia traditions, racial abuse must never be tolerated.
Most of us wish they could erase this one, yet, we just can’t leave it out when discussing the most heated contests between Juventus and Inter since it unraveled into a major melee at the final whistle.
Sadly, a section of Juventus supporters hurled racial slurs toward Romelu Lukaku after scoring a late equalizer. The Belgian naturally replied by shouting some insults, prompting a reaction from Juventus captain Danilo.
Moreover, the referee showed Lukaku his second yellow card for his now famous “shushing” celebration.
This altercation then evolved after the match resulting in red cards for Cuadrado and Samir Handanovic for their roles in the great melee.
Thankfully, the ensuing second leg was a less heated affair. Federico Dimarco scored the solitary goal, sending the Beneamata to the Coppa Italia final.
So regardless of the final result, let us hope that this weekend’s encounter between the two arch-rivals cements itself in the memory for the quality of football rather than anything else.
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