Inter Milan V Juventus

Serie A – Week 36 [Saturday, 16th May – 17:00 GMT] –  San Siro



What more can we ask to this Serie A campaign? Very little, now that there’s only pride on the line for Bianconeri. Inter-Juventus is usually a fascinating fixture, but the circumstances obviously move it to the background. However, after losing the Derby against Torino, there’ll probably be more desire to do well, even if the squad will be distracted by the recent accomplishment and the looming Coppa Italia final. It’s a good time to catch the squad off guard, but as Massimiliano Allegri said: “We are Juventus and there are always motivations” and “It’s still Inter-Juventus.”

As the match is sandwiched between two demanding clashes, we’ll see once again a lineup filled with second-stringers, but with some exceptions. Alvaro Morata and Claudio Marchisio are suspended for the Wednesday game, so they are likely to feature in this one. Gianluigi Buffon, Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, Patrice Evra and Arturo Vidal have not been called up. On the other hand, Kwadwo Asamoah is fit and ready to return, but probably not from the get-go. Since Inter are way better than Cagliari and the main objective is to avoid an unwelcomed gaffe against a long-time rival, Allegri intends to field some starters like Leonardo Bonucci and Stephen Lichsteiner and maybe even Paul Pogba, even though it would be his third straight game in a week, after a fifty day absense because of a muscular injury.

Valuable reserves like Stefano Sturaro and Roberto Pereyra deserve to take the stage at San Siro. Despite his precious contribution throughout the season, the Argentinian midfield was disregarded in the biggest matches of the season, so we can expect a little chip on his shoulder (and probably a better performance than in the Cagliari game). If Pogba was spared, Romulo could have another chance to prove his value, but in the midfield this time, and, of course, this is a classic Simone Padoin game.

There’s more incertitude upfront. The crisp Morata will spearhead the attack, with Alessandro Matri or Fernando Llorente on his side. There’s a chance the coach opts for 4-3-3, which is the official tactic of Juve 2, with Simone Pepe and Kingsley Coman as the offensive wingers, but as it stands now 4-3-1-2 looks more likely.

In the first match between the two teams in January, Juventus didn’t manage to win at home and the final result was 1-1. Juventus have recently stumbled on the road, grabbing only two victories in the last five matches as they lost against Torino and Parma and drawn against Roma, but they maintain the best record in the League away from home.

The last performance from the reserves wasn’t particularly inspiring, besides the usual command in the back by Andrea Barzagli and some flashes from Romulo. If he made an appearance, Coman would be once again in the spotlight: during the week, there have been rumblings suggesting that the management could even consider an outright sale if a good offer arrived. I’m skeptical, but maybe selling him with a buy-back clause is on the table. As we know, with Paulo Dybala reportedly already signed, the competition in Juventus’ attack will be fierce and exciting next season and Coman could be considered still too raw.

Probable lineup:

4-3-1-2: Storari; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, Padoin; Romulo, Marchisio, Sturaro; Pereyra; Matri, Morata.

Injured players:

Caceres (ankle).





Inter Milan

Inter are right in the running for a Europa League spot as they are three points behind Fiorentina and two points behind Sampdoria. Moreover, Genoa are struggling to get an UEFA license and Torino have dropped out of the race with the recent back-to-back losses, so in theory they are the lone competitors. They need every point they can obtain.

It’s not easy to get an handle on this Inter side. They deservedly beat Roma, then they unconvincingly defeated Udinese (down to nine men for a big chunk of the game), they laid an egg against Chievo Verona at home (0-0) and in the last game they played pretty well against Lazio, even though they were helped by two red cards. The overall record since the return of Roberto Mancini is nine wins, nine draws and six losses.

The complexion of the midfield will be different from the last matches because Fredy Guarin suffered a thigh injury and Hernanes, who has really been their driving force as of late, is suspended. The most logical replacements are Marcelo Brozovic and Xherdan Shaqiri, who, after a good start, have been left out of the starting XI in the recent games. Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Assane Gnoukouri are the alternatives if Mancini opts for a more muscular midfield, moving Mateo Kovacic behind the striker and leaving the former Bayern Munich attacker on the bench.

The main threat comes from the notorious Juve killer Mauro Icardi, who has scored five times in the last four matches against the Old Lady. He’ll partner the imperishable Rodrigo Palacio. Lukas Podolski has been able to provide unexpected contribution from the bench in the last games too: he could be an option, even from the start, in case the coach wants a different scheme.

Mancini has consistently fielded a back four composed by Danilo D’Ambrosio, Andrea Ranocchia, Nemanja Vidic and Juan Jesus. It doesn’t have the same offensive punch as an usual defense with two traditional fullbacks, but it is a little more physical and reliable, even though all members are pretty prone to occasional blunders, at least because they have one more big body to protecting Samir Handanovic.

They like to keep ball in the opponents’ half until they manage to find the right opening for a timely through ball or a lob behind the defense. This was clear in the last match, where they managed to find a cutting Palacio multiple times. Their flank game isn’t very strong, further impoverished by the presence of Juan Jesus, so they usually operate in the center, an area that will be very clogged. They play aggressively, taking advantage of their physicality, in particular in the set pieces.

They have all the tools to be a strong side, but sometimes they seem psychologically vulnerable, passive and sloppy: they make easy mistakes and the let the opponents have the upper hand for a too much time. They have (relatively) struggled at home, where there’s an increased pressure from the fans and the opponents sit back more: the record six wins, seven draws and four draws, which is mediocre.

Probable lineup:

4-3-1-2: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Vidic, Juan Jesus; Brozovic, Medel, Kovacic; Shaqiri; Icardi, Palacio.

Injured players:

Guarin (thigh), Campagnaro (calf), Dodo (knee), Jonathan (knee).

Suspended players: