Feature Photo: http://www.juventus.com
You know it is going to be a match between two great teams when it is dubbed a Derby even if they don’t come from the same city. There are always great expectations on a game between Juventus and Inter because, even though they are 150km apart, their rivalry comes from far behind and they both are going through a good run.
On one side, playing local, we have always-fearsome Juventus. Even though they are far from what they used to be, they are still close to the top spot and so have been for almost the whole championship.
Not much can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo, who just came from breaking another record, and who probably will have, once again, to lead his team through victory. We are already used to see him win without the need of his teammates.
That is also why we are not surprised to hear that the Bianconeri might be looking for a substitute for coach Maurizio Sarri. The club management and fans are not happy with the game displayed and the results of the latest matches, and Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions League makes tifosi dream of seeing Pep Guardiola sitting on the bench of the Juventus Stadium. Much will depend on Juve’s clash against Lyon on March 17.
On a completely different path, we find Inter. What seemed to be finally their year to win the Scudetto is now slowly deflating. From a team with a sumptuous transfer market campaign in the last summer and with a big boost as was the additional signing of three great players this winter, we expected it to be fighting for the lead of the championship by now.
On the contrary, we find a team that comes from losing its second place, after a spectacular comeback from Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio in their direct clash. The Nerazzurri, who defeated their eternal rival and neighbor Milan after being 0-2 down, have vanished in the Coppa Italia against Napoli and again in Rome against Lazio. Anyway, as with Juventus, you should never underestimate this team. They have one of the most wanted striker pairs in current football in the persons of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, which can be lethal if given the opportunity.
Home side Juventus will likely benefit from the return of three important players such as Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa, and Gonzalo Higuain. We will see if they are enough to improve the image of the team and thus be able to take hold in the first place. From Paulo Dybala, we are still waiting for something more than his appearances on social networks, as this season we have barely seen the gems that he used to showcase.
Something similar happened with the star signing of this summer – Adrien Rabiot. According to Sarri, “getting into Italian calcio is not easy, even Michel Platini had some difficulties.” The Frenchman indeed had a difficult start, but we are slowly starting to see him making his way into Juventus’ eleven more frequently.
Inter, on the other hand, are forced to win in order not to lose trace of the championship. A defeat would put them nine points from the top (with a match still to be played against Sampdoria), a very difficult distance to cut especially having lost both matches against direct rivals.
It will be a great opportunity for new signings Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen to continue to establish in the starting line-up. A different scenario is that of Victor Moses, who was in the starting eleven against Udinese, and from whom we have not yet seen a great football display. Perhaps this will be his opportunity to stand out.
The one that, unfortunately, will be and is currently being the protagonist of this match and the whole Serie A is the COVID-19 coronavirus. Due to the multiple cases that have occurred in the Lombardy region, precautions have been taken and all Serie A games will be played behind closed doors until April 3. This can be a handicap for the Vecchia Signora as Juventus will have to play without the support of his expected 40000 fans.
We don’t know if we’ll get one of those matches that will be historic, but it will certainly be a game that neither team will want to lose. Those who will be watching it very closely are Lazio who, depending on the outcome, will see their chance to maintain to the top increase or, on the contrary, watch Inter start to be hot on their heels.