The metaphorical irresistible force met the immovable object on Saturday night as Inter visited fortress Turin having won all their away games this term. What happened in the latest Derby d’Italia wasn’t pretty but may provide fresh motivation for la vecchia Signora in her quest to retain the Serie A title. Consider this therapy and read on!
MATCH ANALYSIS (by Adam Digby)
*Sigh* Did it really have to happen here? Of course we knew the incredible undefeated streak would have to come to an end some time but if Juventini could choose one club to not break their 49 game run it would be Torino. If they could choose two however, the Nerazzurri would undoubtedly be next on the list yet that is exactly what happened here, Inter becoming the first ever team to leave Juventus Stadium with three points.
What makes it even more galling for fans of the Bianconeri is that their bitter rivals deserved to do so, putting on a consummate display of how to win football matches away from home. Perfectly set up to counter Antonio Conte’s tactics. Yes Juventus started well and took the lead through Arturo Vidal but, particularly in the second half, this game was dictated by Inter.
Andrea Stramaccioni perhaps matched Conte in terms of initial set up, which is no mean feat as the Juve boss has beaten numerous opponents before the game even begins over the past year and a half. During the game of course, Conte is confined to a directors box, cut off from his players and unable to influence the result while his Inter counterpart tweaked and altered his side to find a way to halt a previously unstoppable machine.
His deployment of players to harass, press and occupy not only Andrea Pirlo but also Leo Bonucci is arguably where this game was won and, while it is easy to grasp at that and claim ‘it will be different when Conte returns!’ it is perhaps better to acknowledge the loss and use it to spur the team on, reignited by finally having a challenger worthy of the name. That it’s THEM should only serve to further heighten that impetus.
LE PAGELLE (by Adam Digby)
Buffon: 6.0 – Let off by an incorrect offside decision on Palacio’s disallowed header, this was not a vintage Superman performance although he was largely a spectator in the first half.
Barzagli: 6.5 – Seemingly back to his best, he continued the good form he appeared to find again in midweek. Odd in a game where the defence conceded three goals but he was one of the better players on the pitch.
Bonucci: 5.5 – An ineffective display against his former club. He was pressed when Juventus were in possession, Inter limiting him to just 46 touches which made a huge impact on where the game was played. Also caught out by the surprising pace of Milito on more than one occasion.
Chiellini: 6.5 – Appeared to tone down his often brutish approach to defending, putting in a tackling master class whilst also able to contribute to the attack with some trademark forays into the opposition half.
Lichtsteiner: 4.5 – Completely bossed by Nagatomo, we have yet to see the best of the Swiss full-back this term and he is player seemingly most affected by the absence of Conte on the side-lines. Made some simply awful tackles before he was widely hooked off in the first half.
Caceres: 6 – Did much better than Lichtsteiner had, he came off once more as Juve chased the game.
Quagliarella: 6 – 12 minutes for the brightest forward on show, he deserves more minutes than he is currently getting. Introduced far too late.
Marchisio: 6.0 – A constant threat to Inter (isn’t he always?) he gave away a penalty which seemed incredibly harsh. He has delivered so many times in a fixture he clearly feels more than most it was no surprise to see him in tears at the final whistle.
Pirlo: 5.5 – Another perfectly marshaled by Stramaccioni’s tactics, he was once again subdued and seems to desperately need to sit out a game or two to recharge his batteries.
Vidal: 7.0 – A game Juventus would have won if they had half a dozen Arturo clones to call upon, the Chilean was everywhere here, making tackles, intercepting passes and of course opening the scoring. Appeared on a mission to prove that if Paul Pogba is to become a first team regular, it won’t be in place of him.
Asamoah: 6.0 – We have marveled at the impact he has made since arriving this summer and he started this match brilliantly too, playing a key role in the opening goal but then Zanetti got to grips with him, kept him on the back foot and forced him to make poor decisions. There is no greater compliment you can pay the Argentine right now.
Vucinic: 6.0 – Big Game Mirko failed to live up to that billing despite looking like he would in the early going but when he failed to re-emerge for the second half, Juve’s performance was only ever going to get worse.
Bendtner: 4 – Came as close as it is possible to come to receiving a ‘no vote’ despite being on the pitch for 45 minutes, Sunday’s La Stampa asks “Why put him in? Why buy him?” Why indeed.
Giovinco: 5.0 – A match where a player of his ilk could have made the difference, sadly he vanished after a bright start in which his cross gave Vucinic a glorious chance to make it 2-0. From there all the old flaws crept in and he took much heat from fans who need to be a little more patient with a player who has improved immeasurably over the last two years.
Conte/Alessio: 5 – The team were well set up and started brightly, which shows Conte had prepared them well despite only having two days in which to make ready for such an important match. Alessio however had no answers for the questions posed by Stramaccioni but, while remembering he is only the assistant, he is not the last Coach who will be out-thought and out-manoeuvred by the impressive Inter boss.
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP (by Adam Digby)
Well they say ‘all good things must come to an end’ and, as much as it seems counterproductive to say so, perhaps it was time for us to lose. Of course nobody wants to watch Inter win at any time, let alone against the Bianconeri in Turin and that feeling is only multiplied tenfold when it ends such an incredible streak but, looking back in recent weeks, perhaps the pressure to maintain that unbeaten run had taken priority over the business Juventus have always been in; winning games.
Now the millstone has been removed from around their necks, la vecchia Signora can re-launch, beginning with Nordsjælland on Wednesday night in a game Juventus must win if they are to progress in the Champions League. Losing is – as Buffon said in his post-match interview – a big part of football and the squad’s reaction to it will tell us much about where this team, this Coach, this Juventus. A poor result yes but this is no time for complaints, it is time to go to work once again. Here’s to the next forty-nine games!