It didn't come as heavy as a home defeat like last year, but the first Derby d'Italia of the season still stood to serve as a great reminder and wake-up call for our players, fans, and rivals - this won't be a cruise control season in Serie A for Juventus.
Despite Mazzari's departure from our biggest rival in the south, we weren't robbed of a classic 3-5-2s battle this year either. In just a few months, Inter's coach has been able to consolidate a very hit-or-miss group of players and turn them into a cohesive unit able to defend and counter-attack with the best of them in Italy. Classic Walter.
The game was played at a frantic pace for the most part. Juventus had the edge in the first half, Inter came sprinting out the gates in the second, and it took substitute Icardi to open up the scoring after a Chiellini mistake for the teams to wake up. It was a beautiful goal taken by the youngster in the 73rd minute, nothing Buffon could've done about it.
It seemed to anger the bull, though. Immediately, Juve came right back at Inter, Asamoah got himself past all Inter defenders on the left, squared it over to Arturo, who trickily slotted in the bottom right corner for the equalizer just 2 minutes later.
We even had the chance to close out the win at the end, when Vidal headed straight at Handanovic from a close distance and Isla proceeded to vigorously confirm everyone's suspicion of him being worthy a spot on the Juve team with an embarrassing effort for the rebound.
In the end, one goal scored, one goal conceded, and one point earned.
Buffon: 7 - He was troubled on occasion but always looked focused and assured.
Barzagli: 7 - Most of Inter's attacks were on the right, but he still had a good game. His injuries, fitness, and age are all against him, but he's handling all that like a champ and puts in great performances. Unfortunately our schedule has been and will be tough so he'll have minimal time to get quality rest. Hopefully Ogbonna can come in and replace him adequately when needed.
Bonucci: 7 - Stayed solid throughout and fought off central attacks well. Teams are now trying to stretch our 3-man defense which means Barzagli and Chiellini have most of the catching up to do.
Chiellini: 6 - Another shaky performance from Chiellini. Seemed nervous all game long and he still can't make a pass for the life of him. I don't know how in 10 years he still hasn't learned to pass better. You can also blame the Inter goal kinda on him, since he lost possession and allowed Ricky to create for Icardi.
Lichtsteiner: 6 - Got a harsh first yellow card when the referee was still trying not to shit his pants in the beginning of the game. Then risked being sent off, and Conte wisely replaced him at the halfway mark. Shame he couldn't get into the game. You can blame Nagatomo's excellent work rate for that too.
Pirlo: 6.5 - There was a lot of criticism of Pirlo in the game thread, which I understand. Still, he did have some decent passes despite the heavy pressure from Cambiasso and co. No more blaming "being tired," he'll need to step up his game and move the ball quicker if we are to benefit from his passing. Otherwise, he's a liability pace-wise.
Pogba: 6 - I know what you're thinking - that's harsh. Still, this game was there for the taking and Pogba should've done a lot better to help create chances and exploit space in midfield. He was too comfortable being taken out of the game by Inter's midfield.
Vidal: 7.5 - Definitely man of match, if only for the last 30 minutes where he woke up the whole team and salvaged a point. He could've won the game too, except his header was straight at Handanovic.
Asamoah: 6.5 - Did great to set up the goal, but just as Pogba, was too comfortable being "closed down" by Inter's hard-working defense and midfield. He made Jonathan look good, which is nearly impossible.
Tevez: 7 - Worked his ass off from minute one and never stopped moving about.
Vucinic: 6 - Conte will surely take the blame for starting Mirko despite him not being 100%. I understand Conte's desire for stability in such an important match, but Mirko failed to provide that really. Tried to get going with Tevez but it never materialized. Should've come off sooner too.
Isla: 6 - Somehow managed to equal if not surpass Lichtsteiner's ineffectiveness in the second 45 minutes. That shot at the end was quite embarrassing too.
Quagliarella: 6.5 - Brought energy to the team right away, which was very much lacking. Look for him to start tomorrow.
Conte: 6.5 - Walter Mazzarri has always been a tough contest for Conte and this time it was no different. Conte's team kept its structure and cohesion, but lacked creativity. It will be interesting to see the rotation of the squad as the schedule gets more congested with the start of the Champions League.
THINGS I THINK I THINK
Get Moving - I caught the Villareal vs. Real Madrid game last night on replay and couldn't help but notice how quickly Villareal moved up the pitch with the ball in possession. This left Real Madrid exposed and confused, since they play such attacking football and a high defensive line. Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, and Marchisio will HAVE to start moving the ball a lot quicker if we will want to take away anything from Real.
Wing Play - Still on the Real Madrid scouting report - Real plays WIDE! Ronaldo and Bale really stretch the field and you also have Benzema, Modric, and Isco to worry about, quite the formidable force in attack. Lichtsteiner and Asamoah better be at 150% for those games cuz they will have to run their hearts out to keep up on both ends of the field. I'm convinced they can do it, too.
Serie A - Last year after the Inter defeat, I was crushed but optimistic that the result would wake our assess up. I'm hoping this draw will have a similar effect on our players. The Scudetto this year is far from guaranteed as everyone's been saying and if we slip up more than a few times Napoli can easily steal it from under our noses. Other teams like Inter and Milan (if they can stay healthy) are strengthening too, and Roma seems to be cruising along well so far. Most games will be tough this season and we'll have to stay focused for all of them. It shall be interesting.