Oh, it's almost Derby day. Don't mind if I do.
Out of all the games Juventus won last season, the two over Inter were some of the best — and most enjoyable — of the entire year. It's not exactly going to take a brain surgeon to figure out beating Inter is fun — really, really fun.
Guess what, folks? We have another chance, in about 24 hours or so, to have some more fun at the expense of those guys.
So here we are. Get your dancing shoes ready. It's Derby Day Eve once again. Oh how sweet it is.
Inter are hot. Maybe not as hot as Derrick Zoolander, but they're starting to rack up the wins. Not to the level of Juventus just yet, but eight straight wins are eight straight wins. We may hate them, but it would be naive to say that they aren't playing well right now.
There's just one thing, though: This. Is. Juventus.
That's right. The team may not be playing to its full potential at the moment, but you don't go undefeated in 49 straight games in Serie A out of pure luck. Well, there might be some of that involved, but this ain't no fluke. This is a Juventus team that is currently in the midst of one of the best runs in European history. HISTORY.
To get No. 50 against Inter would be quite fitting. With everything these two clubs have been through together over the years — especially lately — on and off the field, extending the unbeaten run another game against the most hated rival would be even better than just another win.
Beating Bologna is one thing. Beating Inter, at home, and extending the unbeaten streak to 50 games at the same time — that would be glorious.
It's a big match and it's not in the Champions League. So, Juventus should be good to go! (Yes, jokes are being recycled.)
In all seriousness, the one of the best pieces of news when it comes to the Derby on Saturday is the fact that just about everybody is healthy. Outside of Claudio Marchisio's recent injury problems and Arturo Vidal's suspension due to yellow card accumulation, everybody was available to play mid-week against Bolgona. Now, you could say that not all of them are on top form, and that would be correct. But Antonio Conte has choices as to who to play against Inter. And that's what you want to have, especially with the schedule being so busy these days.
But the best thing might be the fact that Juve aren't talking to the press before this. I love it. I hope it's basically a "Put up or shut up" kind of deal. That's the hope at least. We'll see how well it pays off as Inter players and coaches talk to everybody and Juventus quietly prepare at Vinovo. Out of the two, I definitely prefer my team to be the ones going all business-like rather than running their mouths in the press.
Juventus haven't been all that impressive lately. And because of that, the wins they've recorded haven't been all too commanding or convincing. That's not exactly the way you want to be playing against your most hated rival that just so happens to be playing well right now.
Man, I wish Conte was around to throw some chairs or something along those lines right about now.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The atmosphere at Juventus Stadium. Why? For the simple fact that a) it will be absolutely bonkers and make-your-ears-bleed kind of loud. The tifosi seem to only rise up that much more when the fixture calls for it. There's no reason to think that they won't show up in droves on Saturday night. This is the kind of game where they're at their best — loud, full of song, and giving the squad the extra boost they need.
2. How Juventus play with a lead — if they get one, of course. It seems like one of the things lacking from this Juventus squad in recent weeks is that true killer instinct. So many times we say we want to see a team with grinta, but we also want to see a team that absolutely stomps on their opponent when the chance is there. Juventus allowed Bologna to hang around and it came back to bite em. Now, with a clear step up in quality, putting Inter away — if given the chance — will likely be the difference between three points or just one.
3. The strikers. Nicklas Bendtner is playing well. (That was odd to type.) And there are rumblings that Fabio Quagliarella will keep his spot in the starting lineup. It would be tough to leave out Mirko Vucinic because of his reputation for big performances in big games. Let us not forget Sebastian Giovinco, too. So who do you roll with? You can discuss. My answer is just a few clicks of the mouse down the page.
4. Containing Diego and Fantantonio. Between the two of them, Milito and Cassano have scored 10 goals. That's mor than or equal to the total goal output of six teams in Serie A. Keeping the two players under control will be one of the biggest keys to winning the Derby. And if Juventus do that, which won't be easy, will put them in prime position to make it 50 straight in Serie A. Now about scoring goals on the other end of the field....
5. 3-5-2 vs. 3-5-2. It's been a discussion point before and it will be again before, during, and after the match. How Juve play against teams that roll out similar formations is well-documented at this point, so I won't go into it that much further. But if Juventus struggle in the midfield, there's probably a good reason why: 3-5-2.
6. Claudio Marchisio's impact. He's been on the sidelines the last two games, but I have a gut feeling it was to make sure he's healthy for this one. Marchisio has a knack for having his best games against Inter, scoring a couple of game-winners in the process. There are many reasons as to why Marchisio is so loved, but it's also the fact that when the spotlight is put on Juve-Inter, it's when he shows up.
The gif is so pretty. AND DON'T YOU DISAGREE WITH ME.
7. Arturo Vidal's impact. Based on pure form right now, King Arturo shouldn't be starting over Paul Pogba. But seeing as when the best lineup in terms of overall skill is written down, Vidal is included in that. With Inter coming to Juventus Stadium, Vidal is likely to get the start ahead of the 19-year-old Frenchman. The rest mid-week against Bologna hopefully did him some good — not only physically, but also mentally. If Juventus want to get back to the same kind of level as last season, then having Vidal back to his best is crucial.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Quagliarella, Vucinic
KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY, 3:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST, 12:45 ON THE WEST COAST.