A fixture both clubs and their fans circle from the day schedules are released, Inter Milan, with their ex-Juventus captain and boss Antonio Conte, will host a Juventus side that looks quite different from the ones that have claimed the Scudetto for the last nine years on Sunday. With both teams tipped as title favorites by various pundits and outlets, the match could really decide how the long haul to May might look for managers Conte and Andrea Pirlo.
The showdown comes with Conte’s Inter sitting second in the table, while Pirlo’s Juventus enter the match in fourth place, forced to play catch up after a rocky start to the season by the defending champions’ standards. In the former Inter, Milan, and Juventus midfielder’s first season in management, he has dealt with growing pains in results like draws to Crotone and Benevento as well as an ugly 3-0 loss at home to Fiorentina just before Christmas. However, the Bianconeri’s recent 3-1 win over league leaders Milan has certainly been a boost to their season.
Pirlo will be missing two of key players on Sunday, as both Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt have been all but ruled out. Dybala picked up an injury in a win over Sassuolo while de Ligt has been dealing with COVID-19. In the same match Dybala picked up his injury, Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa had to leave the pitch with injury problems, though both have recovered in time for the trip to Milano. A further two players, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado, are still awaiting negative COVID-19 tests before returning to the Juventus squad.
For Inter, Wednesday’s extra time victory over Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia should not leave the squad with any hangovers, as Conte did a great job preventing any starters from playing more than 90 minutes at most.
On the injury front, some good news has come in the form of Matteo Darmian and the long absent Matias Vecino returning to training. The injury concern for Stefano Sensi after being removed from the starting lineup just before kickoff against Fiorentina turned up nothing and he has returned to training as well. The only player unavailable to Conte is Danilo D’Ambrosio.
Having all hands on deck will be important, as this is a fixture that Inter have not won in Serie A since Frank de Boer managed a 2-1 win over Max Allegri’s Juventus during the Dutch manager’s tumultuous spell with the Nerazzurri early in the 2016-17 season. However, with Juventus no longer employing known Inter killer Gonzalo Higuain and with other noted Inter killer Dybala out through injury, now might be the best opportunity Inter have had in nearly five years to knock off Juventus head to head and set the tone for a possible all-Milanese Scudetto race.
1-2 (H) - 6/10/2019
2-0 (A) - 8/3/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter 2-1 Juventus
This match has a high chance of being a very interesting matchup both tactically and personnel wise. While Chiesa may give Ashley Young a harder time than he would give Darmian if he were to start, Achraf Hakimi should be licking his lips at the thought of running at Gianluca Frabotta and the aging Giorgio Chiellini. Pirlo mentions Conte and his 3-5-2 as an influence in his style of management and will likely try to match his former manager like for like, though he has experimented with 4-2-4, 4-4-2, and 3-4-1-2 setups this season. Both teams boast an assortment of high quality talents, but Inter should be able to take advantage of a few key Juventus absences to edge out a tight win.