Inter came into today's match as clear underdogs and going through a run of form that was less than incredible. But this was the Derby d'Italia and in this game, form can often go out the window as passions run high. Fans of the Nerazzurri were cautiously optimistic at the start of the game, quietly hoping for a positive result that would help start Inter's 2015 on a strong note and begin a run of form for the team.
Palacio was slated to start the match but was left out at the last minute possibly due to a case of the flu, so Inter lined up in a 4321 formation with Kovacic and Hernanes supporting Icardi up top. New signing Lukas Podolski was left on the bench for his first game as an Inter player.
Juventus started the game strongly and ended up taking the lead after just 5 minutes, with Arturo Vidal showing some good play before setting up Carlos Tevez for a simple tap-in. (An interesting side note: in 5 of the last 7 matches between Inter and Juventus, the Bianconeri have scored within the first 20 minutes-stats courtesy of SoccerPunter).
Inter had to weather the storm for a majority of the first half, with Samir Handanovic almost single-handedly keeping his side in the match making a series of great saves, most notably from Vidal and Paul Pogba.
By the second half changes were needed if Mancini wanted to leave Turin with any points, and on 54 minutes he brought on Podolski for Zdravko Kuzmanovic. The substitution had an impact on the game, giving the team more width, energy, and an extra attacking outlet. Podolski and Danilo D'Ambrosio linked up well down the left side of the pitch, and momentum began to shift Inter's way.
In the 64th minute that momentum paid off. Fredy Guarin send in a through-ball that Mauro Icardi ran onto and slotted past Gianluigi Buffon. (A more fun stat this time: Icardi has scored 5 goals in all 4 of his appearances against Juventus).
Pretty much from this point on the game was end to end. Andrea Pirlo almost scored from a free kick with Handanovic making a miraculous save. Buffon repeated the feat stopping a powerful Icardi strike and then Icardi put the ball wide after a cross from Podolski. Icardi also had a shot go wide from a good counterattack that left a wide open Pablo Osvaldo furious.
Just when it seemed that the comeback would be complete, Mateo Kovacic was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Stephan Lichtsteiner and from there Inter held on to take a point back to Milan.
Things to Note:
- D'Ambrosio had a good performance in this match. He got the better of Lichtsteiner a number of time, showed the beginning of a solid partnership with Podolski, and delivered in a couple of good crosses (something we haven't seen too often this campaign). I expect to see him locking down a starting spot at least while Nagatomo is away for the Asian Cup.
- After yelling at both Icardi and Mancini (and almost attacking Icardi), Osvaldo ran off the pitch immediately following the final whistle, probably to continue to let out his rage. While he was right to be somewhat frustrated (since the move that left him angry probably could have won the Nerazzurri the game) his level of anger was well overdone. Hopefully Mancini can calm him down and make sure the team atmosphere isn't affected too much by this incident.
- Andrea Ranocchia and and Juan Jesus both picked up yellow cards in this match and have accumulated enough bookings to suspend each of them for the game against Genoa on Sunday. This means that Vidic and Andreolli will probably be starting.
At this point, Inter remain firmly mid-table at 11th place, now 8 points from 3rd place and that coveted final Champions League spot. While taking any points from the Juventus Stadium is admirable, focus must be shifted into going on from this good display and picking up maximum points from the next few matches. Looking at the schedule, Inter take on Genoa, Empoli, and Torino in January. With only Genoa above Inter in the league table, the next few matches are a good place for the Nerazzurri to put together a series of wins and start pushing up the table.
As always, FORZA INTER!
Juventus 1-1 Inter
Scorers: Carlos Tevez 5'; Mauro Icardi 64'
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba; Vidal (Pereyra 78), Tevez, Llorente (Morata 63)
Subs not used: Storari, Rubinho, Caceres, Ogbonna, Pepe, Coman, Giovinco, Padoin, Mattiello, Marrone
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri
Inter: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus, D'Ambrosio; Guarin, Medel, Kuzmanovic (Podolski 54); Hernanes (Osvaldo 85), Kovacic; Icardi (M'Vila 90)
Bench: Carrizo, Andreolli, Vidic, Obi, Dodò, Puscas, Krhin, Donkor, Bonazzoli
Coach: Roberto Mancini