Following a successful week in Europe, Italy’s traditional top two convene for the first Derby d’Italia of the season on Sunday, seeking to make up ground lost at the top of the Serie A table.
Both teams are adrift of Napoli and Milan coming into the weekend, but Juventus are resurgent following a streak of six straight victories and will want revenge for losing the Scudetto to Inter Milan last term.
Having collected just one point from their opening two fixtures in the Champions League, on Tuesday, Inter were relieved to record a first win of their Group D campaign against surprise package Sheriff.
Edin Dzeko scored the opening goal with a fine left-footed volley, helping Inter secure a much-needed 3-1 victory at San Siro and keeping them in the race for the knockout stages.
The Nerazzurri had suffered the reverse result in losing to Lazio last Saturday, leaving them third in the Serie A standings, some five points off the summit occupied by flawless Napoli.
Their first Serie A defeat under Simone Inzaghi came as something of a shock to Inter, after they had taken an early lead through Ivan Perisic’s 12th-minute penalty. They crumbled during the second half, though, as Inzaghi’s return to Stadio Olimpico ended sourly for the former Lazio coach.
As the division’s top scorers with 23 goals to date, and with both Dzeko and his strike partner Lautaro Martinez sitting near the top of the early Capocannoniere standings, the champions are far from concerned about their start to the Serie A season, but the gap between them and Juventus has been narrowing over recent weeks.
Juve could even catch the Nerazzurri on points with a win at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza this weekend, so Inzaghi’s back three will need to be on their toes at all times against fast-improving opponents.
Not only is the Old Lady of Turin starting to rediscover her voice, with a series of strong performances leading to several successes at home and abroad, but Juventus also travel to Milan holding the edge over Inter so far this year.
As the two bitter rivals have clashed four times already in 2021 they will be familiar foes on Sunday, and Juve are ahead on recent form in the Derby d’Italia, with two wins from the last three.
After getting the better of their Nerazzurro counterparts across two legs in the Coppa Italia semi-final – on their way to lifting the trophy for the 14th time – Juventus also won a late-season contest at the Allianz Stadium, when they gained a measure of vengeance for having ‘their’ Scudetto stolen by the second city side.
They have been lately looking more like Max Allegri teams of old, as the Bianconeri shook off a testing start to the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era by putting together successive 3-2 victories, followed by a run of four straight 1-0 wins.
The latest of those successes came at the expense of Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday, and followed an equally impressive result against Roma just days before.
With summer signing Manuel Locatelli, comeback kid Moise Kean and Swedish star Dejan Kulusevski the sole scorers in their last three outings, Allegri has begun to turn the page and prioritise a new generation to replace the declining old guard in Turin.
He now takes his side – still the lowest scorers in the top eight – to San Siro for one of the most high-profile games of the season, seeking to prove their credentials as contenders for the title.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Juventus Serie A form:
Juventus form (all competitions):
.We say: Inter Milan 1-1 Juventus
Neither side will want to give too much away at this early stage of the season, and an increasingly cautious – plus effective – Juventus team can hold the champions to a draw on away soil.
Inter may score freely, but still have some flaws which can be exposed by the Bianconeri throughout what is sure to be an absorbing 90 minutes of Calcio