By Daniel Lucci.
Juventus’ thrilling 2-1 victory over Inter in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday proved, once again, that Serie A is back to its best this season and the competition between the teams is the highest it has been in years.
Whether you are an Inter fan, Juventus fan, or a neutral, the first Derby d’Italia of the season was truly exciting, and it certainly delivered a little bit of everything.
From early goals, to a penalty kick, to tempers flaring, and late goal drama — it had it all. This match was anything but boring, It was exciting right from the first kick of the match.
Paulo Dybala gave Juventus a much needed early lead with a wonderful strike through the hands of Inter keeper Handanovic just four minutes in. But Inter came right back in the 18th minute when a cross from the right flank hit Mattijs de Ligt’s arm in the box, and Inter were awarded a penalty.
It was a very unfortunate call for De Ligt, who had an otherwise solid game at the back. Inter striker Lautaro Martinez stepped up and made no mistake with the penalty, burying it perfectly into the bottom left corner leaving Wojciech Szczesny no chance.
Tempers flared at the end of the first half, and some of the Inter bench players confronted Dybala as they thought he had been diving a lot during the half, but replays clearly show he was caught multiple times and in truth, Inter were lucky they did not receive more yellow cards.
Inter ended the match with only two bookings, picked up later in the match, but realistically they could have easily had double that amount.
The intensity died down somewhat in the second half, but nonetheless the excitement of the occasion was still in the air.
As the game wore on both teams had their chances, but nothing came of them. Even though Inter had slightly more possession, the Bianconeri had the better scoring chances, and had six shots on target compared to Inter’s three.
Juventus took a deserved lead and, ultimately the victory, which finally came to be thanks to Gonzalo Higuain.
After a number of wonderful passes between the Juve midfield and attack, Higuain cooly slotted the ball home, making it 2-1 with about ten minutes remaining.
Much to the displeasure of Antonio Conte, Inter’s first loss of the season came at the hands of his old club, but it was a well earned result for Juventus.
They are finally showing major improvements, and playing the type of football Maurizio Sarri wants them to play.
Fast, crisp passes. High, constant pressing of the opponent. It is truly a wonderful type of football to watch when it clicks.
If Juve can keep this up they can be dominant once again in Serie A, and hopefully the Champions League.
Of course they still need time to perfect “Sarriball” but things are progressing in the right direction and they have come on leaps and bounds since the first few games of the season.
Man of the Match – Gonzalo Higuain
There were certainly a few players that could have been awarded man of the match.
Paulo Dybala was phenomenal until he was substituted. He scored a goal, was great in the linkup play with Ronaldo, and caused many problems for the Inter backline.
Lautaro Martinez was very good, also. Scoring the penalty, great on the ball, and was definitely the Nerazzurri’s best player going forward. Leonardo Bonucci and Marcelo Brozovic also deserve mentions.
But undoubtedly man of the match must go to the scorer of the game winning goal, Gonzalo Higuain. Coming on in the second half with just under half an hour to make something happen, he did just that, finishing a wonderful team move and getting Juve a much deserved victory.
Amid all the excitement in this Derby d’Italia, there were a couple players that did not live up to the expectations. Most notably, Federico Bernardeschi and Romelu Lukaku.
Bernardeschi was very wasteful in possession, and at times took too long to make a decision on where to pass the ball.
Furthermore, he turned the ball over in the attacking half too much, and could not get on the same page as Ronaldo and Dybala.
Lukaku was much of the same. He too often made bad passing decisions and could not link up well with Martinez or Politano.
He had a couple positive moments, but in the end he was not nearly good enough. If Inter want to be a threat in Serie A and Champions League, they will need much better play from their top striker when he has the ball in the attacking third.
Although this Derby was an important match, there is still lots of football left this season and with only one point separating Juventus and Inter, each game will continue to be crucial.
No doubt all football fans worldwide will be hoping the next Derby d’Italia in a few months time will bring even more excitement and great attacking play from arguably the two best teams in Serie A.