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Inter Milan 1-1 Juventus: Match Recap

The Derby d’Italia ends in disappointment after a controversial call late, go figure

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/CPS Images/Getty Images

The Derby d’Italia always feels like a momentous occasion, regardless of the time of season or the standings. This time around, it offered the perfect opportunity for Simone Inzaghi and his team to prove themselves with a statement win in this still young Serie A season. However, Inzaghi’s first match against Juventus as Inter manager was doomed to a disappointing draw on the back of a penalty call that was soft at best. The draw puts Inter on the same exact points tally as this time last season at 18.

Starting XIs

The home side made three changes to the side that defeated Sheriff Tiraspol on Tuesday evening. Alessandro Bastoni returned to the starting lineup while Hakan Calhanoglu replaced prospective starter Arturo Vidal, who came down with flu-like symptoms on Sunday morning. Denzel Dumfries also started the match on the bench in favor of the more defensive minded Matteo Darmian on the right side of the midfield five.

While Max Allegri has typically played with a back four this season, he opted for a back three comprised of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Danilo. With this, he intended on matching up with Inter man for man. In some phases, it looked more like a 4-4-2, but was most definitely a 3-5-2 in attack. Key players Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa started the match on the bench, with the former just recovering from injury. Alvaro Morata played as the most advanced striker with Dejan Kulusevski tasked with man marking Marcelo Brozovic, something that past Juventus managers found to successfully neutralize the Inter playmaker.

INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Dzeko, Lautaro.

JUVENTUS (3-5-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini; Cuadrado, Bernardeschi, Locatelli, McKennie, Alex Sandro; Kulusevski, Morata.

First Half

The Nerazzurri started out very well, taking the ball almost immediately into Juventus territory and setting up shop. They earned the first of five corners just three minutes into the match. While not quite as many as the 13 against Sheriff Tiraspol, five for a team as dangerous from dead ball situations such as Inter is an amount that can cause threats. However, none of them connected for a goal in this match.

Three minutes later Juventus tried to answer with a free kick from miles out that landed in the box for Morata to have a shot. Samir Handanovic got down to make the save, but the rebound was stabbed back at him by Alex Sandro. The Slovenian was able to recover on his goal line, but did cause panic for a moment.

Not much happened for the next ten minutes until Inter broke the deadlock. A shot from distance by Calhanoglu took a deflection and thundered off of the crossbar into the path of Edin Dzeko, who made no mistake in slotting into an empty net to put Inter up 1-0 in front of 57,000 delirious fans.

Inter put on more pressure after the goal, but did not create any concrete scoring chances. However, the showing was very promising. Juventus had very little in the way of dangerous possession and misplaced passes on multiple occasions. Inzaghi’s game plan went perfectly and allowed Inter to dominate proceedings.

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Second Half

The second half saw Inter sit back and attempt to defend their lead, much in a way that Interisti grew accustomed to seeing under Antonio Conte. Inter came forward with some half chances, but looked much more interested in preserving their lead rather than adding on. Juventus began to take hold of more possession, but could not get it into dangerous spaces.

The addition of Dybala and Chiesa did lift the visitors’ attack, adding speed and creativity, but Inter managed to handle it well. Matteo Darmian was switched to the left to mark Chiesa and did very well. However, it was the decision to remove Ivan Perisic for Denzel Dumfries to switch to the right that ultimately brought the controversy.

With five minutes left in regular time, Dumfries made slight but unnecessary contact on Alex Sandro as he passed the ball along the edge of the Inter penalty area. Referee Maurizio Mariani had a clear view and a definitive decision that the contact did not warrant a penalty. However, as the ball went out of play a minute later, he was instructed to look at the VAR screen in a move that did not fit typical VAR protocol and decided to revise his decision and awarded a penalty to a Juventus. Upon the decision, Inzaghi earned a red card for his protests. The penalty was then predictably converted by Dybala.

With Inter set up to defend and Juventus toothless outside of the penalty, both teams drifted aimlessly through the final minutes of regular time and five minutes of added time, ending a match in which Inter were minutes from completing their game plan.

Player Ratings

Handanovic - 5.5: Like the last match, Samir created a few heart attacks. This time, they did not reach the back of the net. The rebounds he gave up were dangerous and could have gone in if not for his defense bailing him out.

Bastoni - 6.5: Starting to find his feet defending in a new system. His touch going forward will come back as he gets comfortable with his defense. Things are looking up for him.

de Vrij - 6.5: At the heart of a defense that looked much more organized. Very promising after early struggles of his own.

Skriniar - 6.5: The most aggressive of the back three, in defense and in attack. Another prime Skriniar performance, shame it could not result in a clean sheet.

Perisic - 7: What a performance on the left. Had his arch rival Cuadrado in his pocket all match and got forward well. He may not keep this form up, but will be a huge factor all season if he does.

Calhanoglu - 6.5: Much maligned in the press and online, but put in a very solid performance. Great in the leadup to the goal, but did go a bit quiet after that. Slowly adjusting to the move from trequartista to mezzala.

Brozovic - 6.5: Finally adjusted to the Kulusevski press. Was able to evade the Swede by dropping even deeper and still managed to keep play going in possession. Very impressive.

Barella - 7: Did all the dirty work in the midfield and bossed the midfield physically. Without Vidal, his presence was important. Pulled up late and had to come off. Hope all is well.

Darmian - 7: In a match where Juventus wanted to hit with their speed out wide, Darmian and Perisic shut that down. Worked well deep in defense and in the press. Also still a threat going forward which is great. If only Inter had another one of him.

Dzeko - 7: When a player is in form, the ball finds them. This is what happened on his goal today. Did well to keep that rebound on target when Inter strikers have missed similar chances in recent years.

Lautaro - 6: Popped up more in defense than in attack, but worked for the team very admirably. Needs a goal soon though.

Substitutes

Gagliardini - 6: Came on and put in a defensive shift in place of Calhanoglu. Can’t complain about his contribution. This may be his best role.

Alexis - 6: Replaced Lautaro as an option to hold up and run with the ball to relieve pressure as Juventus pressed for a goal. Did this well, but still needs to get back up to last season’s speed.

Dumfries - 5.5: Could not get up to the speed of the match when he came in to move Darmian to the left in place of Perisic on a yellow card. Could have offered some speed on the counter, but did not. Does not know how perfect of a game is needed in a match against Juventus because any move like his will not be excused in this tie by the referees. Yet another learning experience for the Serie A greenhorn.

Vecino - N/A:

Inzaghi – 6: Outclassed Allegri for 85 minutes, but could not find the substitutions to nullify the late Juventus pressure. Got a red for backing up his team after the call. Hard done by for sure.

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images

Hard to take what happened, but onto the next one. Inter have their chance to get the bad taste out quickly with a midweek Serie A match against Empoli on Wednesday. Anything but three points would spell disaster for Inzaghi with Inter in their current state. Hopefully, Inter can find some holes defensively against an Empoli side that can attack first and ask questions later at times.

Forza Inter!