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Juventus have won three games on the bounce to close the gap to the top four
Inter are also outside the Champions League qualification spots ahead of this game
The fear of losing could be more powerful than the lure of winning on Saturday
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Juventus are a cautious team under Max Allegri, and while that is not a good description of Inter, the visitors to the Allianz Stadium will not want to give anything away early on.
Back a tie at half-time in this weekend’s Derby d’Italia. (+100)
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Juventus’ motto speaks volumes: “winning does not matter, it is the only thing that counts”. Other clubs might pride themselves on a certain style of play or soccer identity, but for Italy’s most successful side the end invariably justifies the means.
Juventus did not pretend to be the sexiest soccer side in Europe during Max Allegri’s first spell in charge, but no one could argue with their achievements. Between 2014/15 and 2018/19, the Bianconeri won five Serie A titles on the bounce. They also reached the final of the Champions League twice, losing on both occasions to teams from La Liga (Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017).
Juve turned back to Allegri after a fourth-place finish under Andrea Pirlo, a managerial novice, in 2020/21. Pirlo was very much a philosophy-led coach who talked of his principles being non-negotiable, so the reappointment of Allegri underlined Juventus’ continued adherence to their motto.
The problem, though, is that Allegri’s methods are arguably making it harder for Juve to succeed. Very few elite managers practice his pragmatic, reactive style of play these days. Attack-minded soccer is in the ascendancy at the highest level, led by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Even in Italy, it is Luciano Spalletti’s exciting Napoli side that sits top of the table.
Juventus have had a tough start to the campaign. They did not even get close to advancing from their Champions League group ahead of either Paris Saint-Germain or Benfica.
And although Allegri’s side have eased the pressure on the manager with three successive victories in Serie A, Juventus - who were second-favorites to win the title in the summer with the best online sportsbooks - head into Saturday’s showdown with Inter in seventh place.
Juventus arrive into the Derby d’Italia on the back of three straight wins, but Inter are in even better form after taking 12 points from the last 12 available. What is more, the Nerazzurri have also secured a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League, finishing above Barcelona in the so-called group of death.
Simone Inzaghi certainly needed to turn things around after a tough start to 2022/23. Inter lost exactly half of their first eight games, including defeats by Lazio, AC Milan, and Roma, to sit ninth at the beginning of October. But they have played some excellent soccer since then and are now just a point outside the top four.
The turnaround has been built on a productive attack: the only team in the division to have outscored Inter are Napoli. With Romelu Lukaku enduring an injury-hit season, Lautaro Martinez has carried the load up front. His six goals place him joint-second in the race to be Serie A top scorer.
But Inter have at times been undone by their lack of defensive solidity. They have shipped 17 goals in 12 games, which works out as almost 1.5 every 90 minutes - unsustainable for a team with title ambitions. Only six sides in the division have conceded more goals so far, while Inter are still awaiting their first clean sheet away from home.
The Derby d’Italia is one of the biggest matches in Serie A, along with the Milan-Inter and Roma-Lazio matches. Inter have had the edge in recent meetings, winning each of their last three clashes with Juventus, including in the Coppa Italia final in May. In the last game between the sides at the Allianz Stadium, Inter ran out 1-0 winners.
That game was settled by a Hakan Calhanoglu penalty and we anticipate this being a similarly tight encounter. For one, that is Juventus’ modus operandi in big games. Allegri’s first concern will be to keep things tight at the back, particularly as Inter have scored 11 goals in their last four outings in Serie A.
The Juventus boss, you feel, would be reasonably content with going at half-time at 0-0. Take note, too, that the Bianconeri have scored just twice in their last seven first halves in the league, a statistic that evidences their tendency to start games slowly and cautiously.
Inzaghi might also settle for that scoreline at the interval. He will no doubt be keen to show that his team does not simply follow a ‘you score four, we will score five’ manta.
As the game wears on, Inter will back themselves to find a way through - particularly if the home crowd at the Allianz Stadium begins to grow restless. Our tip for the first edition of the Derby d’Italia this season is a draw at half-time.
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Teams: Juventus vs Inter
Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Time: Saturday 5 November, 2:45 PM EDT
How to Watch: Paramount+
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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