A high-stakes Derby d’Italia will decide the destiny of the Supercoppa Italiana this year, as Inter Milan and Juventus clash at San Siro on Wednesday.
The 34th edition of the match-up between Serie A champions and Coppa Italia winners not only sees the first silverware of the season up for grabs, but also brings together the two most successful clubs in Calcio.
This week’s encounter of league and cup winners will be just the second Derby d’Italia in the Supercoppa, after the 2005 edition, lending the evening an even greater sense of occasion.
While Inter will be making their tenth appearance, it is also the club’s first since they lost the 2011 match to city rivals Milan – not longer after claiming an historic treble including the Champions League.
In all, the Nerazzurri have a 5–4 winning record in Supercoppas, having previously lifted the trophy in 1989, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010, but now seek another following their decade-long drought.
Having ended Juve’s Serie A hegemony by claiming the Scudetto last spring, Simone Inzaghi’s side will bring a long unbeaten run with them into their attempt to consolidate outright supremacy in the Italian game.
Following a false start last week, when their opening match of 2022 was cancelled at short notice, Inter extended their winning streak to eight games at the expense of coach Inzaghi’s former club Lazio at the weekend, as a powerful Milan Skriniar header ultimately decided the closely contested game in their favour.
Though they conceded their first goal in the top flight after six straight clean sheets, the champions still lead the standings by a point from Milan with a game in hand, and are unbeaten in their last 26 league games on home soil.
As a measure of their free-scoring nature this term and last, throughout 2021, Inter became the first side to have recorded more than 100 Serie A goals in a calendar year since 1950 – standing in stark contrast to their opponents’ travails in the final third over recent months
Italy’s most decorated club have claimed the Supercoppa trophy nine times since it was first awarded in 1988 – the most recent being last year, when they defeated Napoli at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium – and Juventus will make their tenth consecutive appearance on Wednesday.
The Bianconeri approach one of the most anticipated encounters of the season on the back of an incredible game at the weekend, when they came from behind to edge Roma in a seven-goal thriller. Mattia De Sciglio was the unlikely matchwinner with a 77th-minute strike, before Wojciech Szczesny saved Lorenzo Pellegrini’s late penalty to secure a 4-3 win.
Buoyed by that success in the capital, Max Allegri now takes his side to the second city, where they will seek to continue a vein of form which has seen them pick up six wins from their last eight fixtures and remain unbeaten since November.
Their potentially momentum-shifting victory at Stadio Olimpico leaves Juve fifth in the Serie A standings – three points adrift of the Champions League places, with a deficit of 11 to table-topping Inter – but despite Sunday’s sudden goal flood, they are still the lowest scorers in the top eight of the table.
Champions for nine seasons running, the Turin giants were finally usurped last year by their Nerazzuro counterparts, and the two bitter rivals clashed five times throughout 2021 so will be familiar foes this week.
After getting the better of Inter across two legs in the Coppa Italia semi-final last season – on their way to lifting the trophy for the 14th time – Juventus went on to gain another measure of vengeance for having ‘their’ Scudetto stolen by the Milanese side by winning in the league.
Then in the first Derby d’Italia of the current campaign, back in October, the teams shared the points in a 1-1 draw – Paulo Dybala snatching a point from the spot after a controversial late penalty call.
Allegri has since imposed some authority on a situation which looked to be spiralling out of control in Turin, and his rejuvenated side return to San Siro this week in expectation rather than just hope.
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Juventus form (all competitions):
We say: Inter Milan 2-1 Juventus
Though this much-anticipated Supercoppa clash could conceivably go either way given both sides’ current momentum, the combination of home advantage and a more potent attack should see Inter come out on top.
Even if the game is delicately poised heading into its final throes, the Nerazzurri have greater depth in most areas and can make some telling changes from their well-stocked bench.