I know most of us would've preferred an "easier" fixture this weekend, but in many ways we couldn't have asked for a better opponent before our Bayern Munich CL quarterfinal on Tuesday. The Inter derby is always one that needs no additional motivation for a Juventus player regardless of how important of a game follows.
Saturday's victory in Milan had everything you can expect out of a Derby d'Italia — great rivalry, goals, drama, hatred, gruesome tackles. But most importantly? It showed an organized, focused, and determined Juventus side ahead of one of the biggest fixtures of recent years.
Inter came to Juventus Stadium in November and snapped our streak of 50 games without a defeat. Not only that, but they did it convincingly using a fresh 3-5-2 formation that had them pressuring high, attacking quick, and working very hard.
Stramaccioni went for the same set up this time around as well, only Conte had adjusted and prepared much better than before. Vidal and Marchisio played deeper to help Pirlo when he was marked and unable to organize our attack, and our forwards wasted little time on the ball trying to unsettle the 3-man defense of Samuel, Ranocchia, and Chivu with quick link up plays, dummies, and 1-2s.
While Inter did have their chances, Juve's defense always had numbers and stayed a lot tighter than the first game allowing only one Inter goal that came on the counter. In return, what little space Matri and Quagliarella created for each other cost Inter a lot, as the latter hit a spectacular shot from distance to open the scoring. Juve's counter was quite the threat on the night as well, as it led to multiple goal-scoring opportunities including Matri's goal in the second half.
Buffon: 7.5 - Inter gave our defense a lot of trouble at times but Buffon was always there to clean things up. Had some very good saves on shots from close range, though couldn't do much on the goal. Great game by Gigi!
Chiellini: 7.5 - Still didn't look 100% himself to me, but it was a great prep performance before Bayern where he'll need to be absolutely perfect. He's always enjoyed being extra physical against Inter and this game was no different. Led our defense in tackles, clearances, and blocks. #Leader
Bonucci: 7 - Most of Inter's attack was from the flanks and Alvarez played a bit deeper for Bonucci to really track him consistently. Did most of the "sweeping" part of his job as good as ever.
Barzagli: 7.5 - Another excellent performance from Andrea - he's really been incredibly consistent. Gave Inter's left-side attackers very little room. Oh, and how about that "catch me if you can" run along the right flank in the first half?
Asamoah: 6.5 - Was often there to help on defense and form the five in the back but contributed very little offensively. Defensively, I still feel more confident with him on the field than Peluso just because of Peluso's erratic tackling. Asamoah still has ways to go until he's back to his best though — hope he hits that form before the end of the season.
Pirlo: 7.5 - After somewhat of a dip of form in the heart of winter, we're seeing a refreshed Pirlo in the last 30-some days. He works a lot harder, controls the game with a lot more conviction, and plays a lot more defense. Helped by Marchisio and Vidal around him, he had a great game and was a factor on all ends of the field.
Vidal: 7.5 - Despite playing deeper for most of the match, he still made some great forward runs which really should've ended up in a goal under his name. His through ball to Quaglia for the second goal was a great one too. Really good game for Vidal.
Marchisio: 7 - A bit more quiet, but still incredibly important for us through the 90 minutes. He ran a lot and, once again, was always in the right spot at the right time defensively.
Padoin: 6.5 - Gave Lichtsteiner the night off with his usually underwhelming yet positive contribution. He's the master at neither standing out nor disappointing. He did have two shots on goal though - something new from Simone.
Quagliarella: 8 - I'm gonna go with Danny's man of match selection if not only for that spectacular goal he blasted in the top left corner. Hustled hard all game long and it paid off for him with the assist on Matri's winner. It was cute to see him give Anelka some attention who seems to be fitting in nicely with our attackers in a more of a mentor role.
Matri: 7.5 - Despite the dummy to set up Quagliarella for the first goal and his own mark on the scoresheet, I felt like he could've done more during the game. Worked hard but sometimes I wish he worked smarter instead of harder. That said, shis instinct kicked in beautifully for the winning goal - it's great to see his poaching sense come back.
Peluso: 6.5 - Got caught off position a couple times defensively - he was simply playing too high straight off the bat. Everyone's tipping him to start against Bayern but I'm worries he lacks the experience and composure for such a game. We'll find out, I guess.
Conte: 7.5 - As I previously mentioned, Conte knew what to expect from Inter and was well prepared for it. It's never easy to get the line up right when you're trying to keep a relatively fresh squad for a mid-week fixture like Bayern Munich, but Conte got this one right. We'll see how tired our MVP midfield will be on Tuesday.
THINGS I THINK I THINK
Mad Inter - How fun are those last 30 minutes when Inter is losing and they are doing EVERYTHING they can to get a goal? That's usually when I crack open a beer and just sit back and laugh at the theater. Everyone's falling in the box like flies, their coach is pushing our players around "in hurry," they start doing all possible illegal things like just taking the ball in straight from a free kick instead of passing it or shooting it like the refs wouldn't notice...oh man, it's hilariously pathetic. Btw, I'm not going to dwell on Cambiasso's tackle on Giovinco - the Argentinian apologized both publicly and privately and Conte took the high road as well in not creating additional drama. I bet things would've been different if Giovinco was seriously injured though. Either way, it was an awful tackle that should be at least three games suspension. Just another part of the mad, classless Inter team we've known to hate.
OH, AND YEAH, BRING ON BAYERN!