Serie A fans await Sunday with bated breath as Giuseppe Meazza sets the stage for the 251st official Derby d’Italia between eternal rivals Inter and Juventus. More than just bragging rights is at stake, with only a point separating the two most successful Serie A clubs ahead of the kick-off.
Fresh off lifting a third consecutive Supercoppa Italiana trophy, Inter returned to Serie A action with a nail-biting 1-0 win against top-four hopefuls Fiorentina. After bagging a stoppage-time winner to topple Napoli in the Super Cup showpiece, Lautaro Martinez struck again at Stadio Artemio Franchi for his 19th league goal of 2023/24.
However, the Argentine’s thumping header would’ve counted for nothing had it not been for Yann Sommer’s spectacular save to thwart Nicolas Gonzalez’s penalty in the second half. Back to Meazza, where they’ve won their last five league outings, including four ‘to nil,’ Inter could make a crucial stride toward their first Serie A title since 2020/21.
Desperate to prevent their arch-nemesis from putting a second star on their jersey, Juventus head to Lombardy to rectify past mistakes. Arkadiusz Milik’s early expulsion clipped Bianconeri’s wings as they surrendered a seven-game winning streak in all competitions against relegation-battling Empoli last weekend.
Even though Massimiliano Allegri’s 10-man side took the lead through free-scoring star Dusan Vlahovic, Tommaso Baldanzi marked his last appearance for Empoli with a stunning equalizer. Roma’s latest acquisition held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in Turin, denying them a chance to start this round at the top of the Serie A table.
With a game in hand and momentum on their side, Inter could lay the groundwork for a long-overdue Scudetto if they can only defy their underwhelming recent record against Juventus. Martinez’s strike salvaged a point for Nerazzurri in an evenly-contested 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture. Yet they failed to win a league game against Bianconeri for the fifth time in their last six encounters (D2, L3).
Amidst the club’s best goals (50) and points (54) return after the opening 21 Serie A rounds since 2006/07, Inter might see this as a perfect opportunity to break their ‘Juventus hoodoo’ and walk away with a pivotal victory. Further confidence stems from a formidable frontline that has netted multiple goals in their last five top-flight matches on home turf.
That’s a feat they’ve only achieved once across their last five Serie A showdowns against Juventus at Meazza, casting doubt on their hopes of avenging a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat in this corresponding fixture in 2022/23.
Regardless of which side of the spectrum of liking Allegri you stand, the man is a mind-game expert. He seized the opportunity of Juventus’ slip-up against Empoli to name Inter ‘absolute’ favorites to dethrone out-of-sorts holders Napoli in the build-up to this contest. In reality, he must be believing in his side’s Scudetto prospects after overseeing a jaw-dropping 19-game unbeaten run in competitive action (W15, D4).
On top of their sensational spell of form, the visitors can find more inspiration in their sublime away record against Serie A top-six sides this season. They’ve not only avoided defeat in all three such fixtures (W2, D1) but have yet to concede a goal, suggesting one strike could be sufficient to win the derby.
However, a more prolific performance could be on the cards. Before Empoli took advantage of their numerical superiority, Juventus had notched up 18 goals in their opening five competitive matches at the start of 2024.
Except for long-term absentee Juan Cuadrado, Inter boss Inzaghi can call upon the rest of his squad for this contest. He must be thrilled to welcome Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella back from suspension, as he needs all hands on deck to take an all-important three points.
On the other hand, Nicolo Fagioli and Paul Pogba are still on the sidelines due to suspensions, with Milik joining them after picking up a red card against Empoli. Moise Kean and Mattia De Sciglio are still in the treatment room, as is winter addition Tiago Djalo. But there’s a chance for Federico Chiesa to partner Vlahovic up top.
Inter vs Juventus Potential Lineups
Inter (3-5-2): Yann Sommer; Benjamin Pavard, Francesco Acerbi, Alessnadro Bastoni; Matteo Darmian, Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco; Marcus Thuram, Lautaro Martinez.
Juventus (3-5-2): Wojciech Szczesny; Federico Gatti, Gleison Bremer, Danilo; Andrea Cambiaso, Weston McKennie, Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot, Filip Kostic; Kenan Yildiz, Dusan Vlahovic.
Inter vs Juventus Prediction
Connoisseurs of attractive, action-packed football will unlikely enjoy this fixture. Many recent meetings between Inter and Juventus have resembled a chess game. Given the stakes, another similar approach seems inevitable, as we expect a share of the spoils.
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