The mother of all matches, the Derby of Italy, will take place on Saturday night in Turin. It will be a match between two sworn enemies but not between the two greatest Italian sides. No, the match between Italy’s two most respected and award winning teams, Juventus and Milan, is scheduled for week 19. This will be the match that pits ‘dishonest’ Juve against ‘all along’ honest Inter. It will be the game that will pit the infamous Agnelli Motorcar family against the tycoons of the oil industry, the Moratti clan. It will be the fixture that will set Ciro Ferrara, a legendary stalwart defender with a glittering playing career and Jose Mourinho, an infamous tactician with a dazzling coaching past, in opposition.
Never have two sides hated each other more. Inter have consistently accused the Old Lady of cheating, even before the notorious triad took over at Juve headquarters. While Juventus, convinced of the Nerazzurri’s envy, are 99.9% sure that la Beneamata fabricated the scandal that saw Juventus relegated, in order to steal the Old Lady’s throne at the helm of Serie A. While Inter claim that playing against Juventus is like playing against Livorno, the Bianconeri are far more respectful. They are awesomely aware that this match must be won and not because of the Scudetto but because they need to prove that despite the Nerazzurri’s success over the past few years, domestic glory has belonged, and always will belong, to Italy’s most successful Italian side.
Of course the hot topic of the match is Mario Balotelli. Will the starlet play considering his less than healthy rapport with Mourinho and will he be subjected to distasteful chants that could result in Inter leaving the pitch? You cannot forget that the youngster has scored three times in the Olimpico and knows exactly how to prove his critics wrong. His confidence is made of steel and the threat of abuse will only serve to motivate the player more. The Juve fans at the stands will look to play with his mind in order to divert his attention from play. Except having him on the field will not distract him, it will distract the Bianconeri on the pitch who will be desperate to ensure their fans stay quiet. The tense situation, the threat of terrible consequences should the Inter players walk and the stress of playing in such a high profile game could well see Juventus defeated. Mourinho should play him if he wants a distracted Juve but for the sake of Juventini, let’s hope Balotelli went out on an all-night bender last night.
Reports around the peninsula suggest that Inter are likely to play in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Dejan Stankovic taking the role of trequarista. If Ferrara had hoped on stifling Inter’s play then the best way to go about is by playing a 4-4-2 formation to cover the holes and crowd the wings. However, since Diego cannot play in that formation, Ferrara would have to settle on the 4-2-3-1 line-up. By playing Mauro Camoranesi and Sebastian Giovinco on the wings, Inter full-backs will have their hands full with defending thus will step off the accelerator. The problem with that formation is that Fabio Grosso is doubtful to start so having the inept Cristian Molinaro and the defence shy Giovinco covering one flank would mean the Nerazzurri would have ample space to attack on the left to fry the Bianconeri. Thus, Ferrara is likely to opt for the 4-3-1-2 formation as he still firmly believes it utilizes all the skills of his squad and he might be right. Playing Claudio Marchisio and Momo Sissoko in midfield will mean that muscle is available to win all the balls and passing ability is there to ensure pinpoint crosses reach the Juve attack without Diego having to retreat to get the ball. Furthermore, Diego and Alessandro Del Piero can finally play together without either one having to compromise their space.
Considering all the possible tactical formations, they appear to have massive flaws especially considering that Juve are yet to adopt an identity on the pitch. Therefore, the match will be tight and the advantage lies with La Beneamata particularly as Ciro will look to play Amauri alongside Del Piero – another pairing that’s destined for failure. Unless Trezeguet takes to the field, one cannot see how these two, who neither work well together nor are fully on form, can penetrate the brick wall Inter are bound to erect. One man who was a constant thorn to the past Inter sides was Omar Sivori. The legendary forward netted in six past the hapless boys of the 1961 Inter side and, of course, the good news is that the Frenchman who recently equalled Sivori’s goal scoring record at Juventus will recover in time for the match on Saturday. Trezegol is likely to start from the bench but news reports suggest that he was able to complete a full training session on Wednesday meaning he could well start with a little bit of luck. His experience and goal scoring touch coupled with Del Piero’s masterful ability could give Juve a real boost.
But a wise reader of these pages once noted that it’s not all about the tactics and he’s right. Ciro is yet to find an identity for his squad so, until he does, the team would do well to listen to Carlo Ancelotti’s words and not be afraid of the Nerazzurri. They need to remember what Marco Materazzi said – Juventus are a better team. Without self conviction, glowing confidence and a pinch of arrogance, Inter will truly teach this Juve a lesson. Helen Keller, the American author, once said: “Self pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world.” So, dear Old Lady, you have won 92 of these derbies, can you make it 93?
Juventus Club Focus 2009/10
Great expectations – August 21, 2009
When in Rome – August 28, 2009
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire – September 1, 2009
World Champions – One in, one out, one remembered – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Children should be seen, not heard – September 7, 2009
Diego lost to injury in victorious Roman repeat – September 15, 2009
The reserves exposed – September 18, 2009
Transforming the formation – September 23, 2009
The cruel blow of lady injustice – September 25, 2009
Haunted by the ghost of last year’s defence – September 29, 2009
We’re meant to be happy with one point? – October 2, 2009
Is it now time to be negative? – October 6, 2009
Ferrara: public enemy #1 – October 9, 2009
Bad or just misunderstood? – October 13, 2009
Let the bitterness commence – October 16, 2009
Oh Ferrara, will you ever learn? – October 20, 2009
Ferrara, thank you for listening – October 23, 2009
Sampdoria will provide the real test – October 27, 2009
Introducing the real Juve – October 30, 2009
Why are we not surprised? – November 3, 2009
The many faces of Juve – November 6, 2009
A team of hyperboles – November 10, 2009
And we’re back – November 20, 2009
Del Piero returns as subordinate players give encouraging displays – November 24, 2009
Failure reverberates throughout the club – November 24, 2009
Is it all over? – December 1, 2009
Oh Lord, make our enemies ridiculous – December 1, 2009