At long last, the much awaited Derby d’Italia (at its 151st historical edition) is back!
Sure, we had little “snacks” like Milan vs. Inter and Roma vs. Lazio on the way, and they did their job at building our appetite until now, but everyone here knows the most anticipated dish in this Serie A 2008-09 luncheon is the fixture between Inter and Juventus, the main course to satisfy even the most hungry of football fans, from Italy and across the world.
Juventini and Interisti, the game is on!
Past History and Current Form
Historically, the Derby d’Italia has always been a theatre of many battles, on and off the field. To give you an idea of just how many, you can read my Inter vs. Juventus preview from the past season, or (if you speak Italian) consult the appropriate Wikipedia page.
Indeed, there’s just so many factors at work in this fixture, and this year with the confrontation between José Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri, they have just amplified further. Goal.com tells us a little bit about that, and more:
Concerning Mourinho, many will remember José’s ranting and raving hurlyburly spat with his Juventus colleague, and this is just one of the many reasons as to why this game is being billed as the mother of all Derby d’Italia’s. Perhaps the most intriguing face-off of Saturday’s fixture will precisely be between now Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri and his Chelsea replacement José Mourinho. The two have had an ongoing war of words since ‘The Special One’ arrived in Italy and they will be bench to bench at the San Siro.
The Portuguese tactician has ridiculed the ex-Parma coach’s achievements (as well as language skills), claiming that he is old, has never won a major trophy and does not need to win to be happy. Meanwhile, Ranieri has pointed the finger at Mourinho on more than one occasion, for his arrogance and capacity at stirring up controversy.
On the field, Nerazzurri have the best defensive record in Serie A this term having conceded just seven. Home form has been impeccable apart from the 1-0 loss to Milan but then they were the ‘away’ team on the occasion and thus really they are unbeaten at San Siro this season.
Surprisingly the last team to have beaten Inter at ‘home’ were Juventus last season. The Bianconeri won that game 2-1. A lot has changed since then. Roberto Mancini went out, José Mourinho came in, as Massimo Moratti shook it all about. The new coach has laid down the law since his arrival. No one at the club apart from the president is above him but, saying that, even Moratti has bowed down to the ‘Special One’.
As for Juventus, the Bianconeri head into this game full of confidence. There has been talk of a win all week but then again talk is cheap and, when it comes to games like these, everyone knows that it’s worthless. What really counts is the football played on the pitch. With seven wins on the bounce, two of those against Real Madrid in the Champions League, it seems as if the Old Lady has been doing all the talking, true to the stereotype of a real-life Vecchia Signora.
Juventus have lost once on their travels this term, twice in total. The away defeat came against Napoli but since then, Ranieri has ensured his team have done the business. Much of the resurgence has been down to the brilliance of captain and legend Alessandro Del Piero. ADP has been in the form of his life and he has a tradition of doing the damage against Inter: if he doesn’t score then he will create one. The Nerazzurri will need to keep an eye out on his free-kicks, and the number 10 has been training hard all week at Vinovo to keep his set-pieces goalscoring form high. Amauri will also be looking to leave his mark. The €24 million summer signing has been blowing hot and cold this week but he usually pulls out all the stops against the big teams.
For ever more previewing goodness, check out the excellent “Five Reasons Why Inter Will Win“ and “Five Reasons Why Juventus Will Win“ double-feature by Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian-speakers only, sorry).
On top of being one of the most anticipated derbies of the Serie A season, Internazionale vs. Juventus also currently holds the record for being played the highest number of times in Italian league history. Saturday will see the fixture surpass its historic 150th match milestone and so far, history seems to favor the Bianconeri who have won the showdown 71 times, against only 42 times for Inter and 37 draws. These numbers are (expectedly) very different of course, if one considers solely the 74 matches played at the San Siro stadium, Inter home soil: in that category, the Nerazzurri lead with 32 wins, 24 draws and 19 defeats.
|Camp. di Guerra|
|Cen. Euro. Cup PO|
With both teams struggling with injured (Juventus) and suspended (Inter) players, the expected tactics for Saturday’s match leave little to certainy and a lot to interpretation. Goal.com takes a stab at the guesswork.
With Christian Chivu and Nelson Rivas still in the treatment room, and Ivan Cordoba missing out through suspension, Inter manager Jose Mourinho has many things to ponder about his formation. Adriano, Julio Cesar, Maicon and Mançini were all involved in international duty this week but they should all be available to play against Juve.
The big question surrounds Adriano‘s possible exclusion again. The hit-man has not featured in any of the last four Serie A fixtures and he warned that he could leave if he doesn’t play. This is unlikely to go down too well with his coach who may drop him. Ibrahimovic enjoyed a two day rest and he will be fresh and ready for action.
According to Gazzetta, José’s biggest temptation would be to use the 4-1-4-1 formation that so easily disposed of AS Roma 4-0 back in October. Even more tempting seems to be the utilization of Mario Balotelli close to Ibrahimovic, even though a certain Julio Ricardo Cruz has always fared well against Juventus in the past (i.e. by scoring lots of goals).
As for Juve, the biggest doubt for Claudio Ranieri should be concerning the partner of Momo Sissoko in midfield. Tiago is healthy, but may be feeling a bit tired after his recent international duty match for Portugal vs. Brazil (and the associated 7000km airplane trip). If he doesn’t make, youngster Claudio Marchisio is ready to step in.
As for the rest of the team, Andrade, C.Zanetti, Zebina, Buffon, Salihamidzic, Knezevic are all crocked, while Trezeguet should be back to full training on Monday. On the right wing, Mauro Camoranesi is back to full fitness and is the clear favorite over teammate Marco Marchionni, while Alex Manninger (performing admirably as Gigi Buffon’s replacement so far) will occupy the spot between the posts.
Duels to Watch
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter) vs. Giorgio Chiellini (Juve)
Ever since the pair faced each other in Turin last year, this duel has rapidly turned into a “match-within-a-match” for Inter vs. Juventus fixtures. The two players repeatedly clashed off-the-ball, with Chiellini clearly winning the battle both on a physical and footballing level. This eventually earned the Italian center-back the nickname “Keyser Giorgio” (doesn’t that stare remind you of Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects?), while Ibrahimovic has yet to prove he can perform well against the big teams. Keep an eye out for these two on the field.
José Mourinho (Inter) vs. Claudio Ranieri (Juve)
As mentioned, the big battle of the dugouts. Bitter rivalry aside, this confrontation should also serve to match two diametrically opposing playing styles, namely Mourinho’s openly-offensive 4-3-3 formation vs. Ranieri’s more cautious wing-attack 4-4-2. Will it serve to prove once and for all who is the better coach? Probably not, as José would say (who labelled this match as “just like any other game”). Although it would go a long way for personal satisfaction, no doubt about that.
Kick-off is on Saturday November 22, 20:30 CET.
Che vinca il migliore!