Serie A Round 18: Inter – Juventus Preview and Expected Lineups

The Serie A leaders are approaching an important milestone which will potentially set a benchmark for the remainder of the season. In Round 18, two of Italy’s heavyweights go head-to-head in what is regarded as one of the biggest rivalries in European football – the Derby d’Italia.

On Wednesday night, both teams have successfully progressed to the next round of Coppa Italia, though their performances were not the most convincing. Inter beat Fiorentina with practically the last kick of the second extra-time when Romelu Lukaku scored in the 119th minute, whilst Juve had thrown a two-goal lead before Hamza Rafia scored what turned out to be a winning goal for the Bianconeri.

The Cult of Calcio is here to preview the most anticipated match of this weekend, with an eye on the probable starting lineups of both teams.

Inter – Juventus

Serie A Round 18
Sunday, 17 January 2021
Kick-off at 20:45 (CET)
Stadio San Siro (Milan)

Recent Form – Inter

Up until recently, Antonio Conte’s men have been in terrific form, with eight wins on the trot at one point and breathing down the neck of their fiercest cross-city rivals Milan. Even though Inter are still only one win away from catching their noisy neighbors, the Nerazzurri have thrown away a glorious opportunity to go top of the Serie A following Milan’s loss to Juventus.

Conte’s side are now 2nd in the league with 37 points, only 3 behind Milan, but the 18-time Scudetto winners have collected only one point in their last two matches. An unexpected defeat against Sampdoria almost a fortnight ago, which ended Inter’s eight-game winning run, followed with a 2-2 draw away to Roma.

The Nerazzurri showed a remarkable spirit by making the second-half comeback – after trailing for more than 40 minutes – thanks to goals from Milan Skriniar and Achraf Hakimi, but were denied the three points in the end. Objectively, Inter deserved to win, having created the more promising chances of the two teams. Although both of their goals had low xG (expected goals) values, Inter created 2 more big chances, valued at 0.54 and 0.43 xG. Unfortunately for the Black and Blues, they wasted both, which cost them a so needed victory in the end.

Despite a few disappointing results recently, Inter remain the best-attacking team in the division. They have scored 43 goals so far this season (best result) and have also recorded the best npxG (non-penalty expected goals) score of 33.7. Two wasted opportunities by Martinez and Lukaku in a game against Roma seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Conte’s men are the second-best team in the Serie A for goals per shot on target metric (0.39 per game), only behind Sampdoria (0.42 goals per shot on target).

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Inter

Conte is known for his stubbornness and reluctance to experiment; thus, we can expect Inter to keep almost identical lineup to the one against Roma. Ashley Young seems to be the only forced change in the starting eleven for this game after Matteo Darmian had to come off injured last week.

Expected Starting XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Brozovic, Barella, Vidal, Young; Lautaro Martinez, Lukaku

Unavailable: Pinamonti (muscle injury), D’Ambrosio (knee injury), Darmian (back injury)

Recent form – Juventus

The last few weeks have been a test of character for Juve, as the 36-time Serie A winners had to deal with the disappointment on and off the pitch. First, a couple of days before Christmas, Andrea Pirlo’s men have suffered their first defeat of this Serie A campaign, losing 3-0 at home to Fiorentina. It followed with a points deduction controversy between them and Napoli, which saw the reigning Scudetto winners slipping down to 7th place in the league, finding themselves 10 points behind the Serie A leaders Milan. Nevertheless, the points deduction seem to have had a positive effect on a team’s performances, with the Bianconeri securing 4 consecutive wins since then, including the Coppa Italia clash with Genoa.

Juventus’ most recent Serie A win came against Sassuolo last Sunday. It was a true game of two halves when Sassuolo’s Pedro Obiang received a straight red card in the dying second of the first half. Juve had no other choice but to take advantage of the situation, with Danilo opening the score in the 50th minute. However, despite Juve’s dominance in the second half in terms of chance creation, 16 shots against Sassuolo’s 6, the visitors kept on pushing and even managed to level the score in the 58th minute. It took the reigning champions 20 more minutes before they finally broke Sassuolo’s resistance, with Cristiano Ronaldo missing 2 big chances, valued at 0.38 and 0.45 xG. A win means Juve have remained 4thin the league standings with 33 points and a game in hand.

The Bianconeri’s lack of composure in front of goal has been a noticeable struggle so far this season.  Despite recording the third-highest number of shot-creating actions per game in the league (26.75), Juventus are only 8th for goals scored per every shot on target (0.35). Overall, Juve’s attack seems to be too much dependent on Ronaldo’s goal-scoring form, with the Portuguese striker having scored 43% of Juventus’ total goals this Serie A season.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Juventus

Pirlo will be missing some key players against Inter, with Matthijs de Ligt, Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro all having tested positive for COVID, whilst Paulo Dybala is sidelined with a knee injury. It means the former Juve midfield star will have to make a couple of forced changes in his starting lineup, with Merih Demiral most likely starting in place of De Ligt and Alvaro Morata forming striker partnership with Ronaldo.

Expected Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Szczesny; Demiral, Bonucci, Danilo; Chiesa, Bentancur, McKennie, Frabotta; Ramsey; Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo

Unavailable: De Ligt (COVID), Cuadrado (COVID), Alex Sandro (COVID), Dybala (knee injury)

Inter vs Juventus – Previous Meetings

Both teams will meet for the 192nd time on Sunday night, with Juventus having the better record of the two. The Bianconeri have won 88 out of 191 head-to-head meetings (45.8% win ratio), whereas Inter’s record is far inferior, only 52 victories (27.2% win ratio).

Inter are winless in the last seven matches against Juventus, with the Bianconeri securing a solid 2-0 win back in March 2020.


It would be fair to say that historic tendencies do not mean much in games like this. Both teams will be eager to keep piling pressure on Milan, meaning a victory is the only satisfying result for either side on Sunday.