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Preview: INTER-JUVENTUS; the Derby d'Italia, Good v. Black-And-Blue Evil

Brief preface to the post. I highly recommend Johonna, Paolo, Kirby, MAD, Ursus, and any other Interistas from the Inter Offside not read any further. I'm also planning on doing a liveblog tomorrow, which in addition I don't recommend you guys reading. I respect you guys and think you are all nice people, aside from your unfortunate choice of a club side, and this page will be 100% Juve-biased and perhaps more importantly, 100% very anti-Inter. Preview after the jump.

Well, where to start? I've been looking to this game for a while. Juve is a big-game team, our fighting will and spirit of "non mollare mai" is world-reknowned. When Roy Keane, a man I respect (rare for a United player) considered leaving Manchester United, he received offers from Juventus and Inter.

"He [Keane] told acquaintances he was considering moving to Turin-based Juventus. "A couple of years ago I nearly went to Juve. People spoke to me about Turin, and said it is this and it is that, but Milan would be nice. I said 'I'm not going for the bloody shops; I'm going because it's Juventus.' You have to sign for footballing reasons."

Great words. We proved it last year, despite finishing in 3rd, we will all remember defeating Roma, Inter, and Milan. No one expected us to win those games, not even us. To think 2 and 1/2 years ago the entire board of directors had re-signed, we were coachless, the stock had far we have come. This year we've proved it. Despite some early-season slipups, we defeated Real Madrid home and away, and handily beat Roma 2-0. This is another test. We haven't been beaten by one of the Big-4 in over 3 years now. Our boys live for these nights, let's keep that streak going.

This question isn't just about Juventus v. Inter, it's also about footballing honesty. Whether Juventus was guilty of match-fixing or not is not relevant. What is relevant is that the only reason Inter are in the position they are is because their immediate contenders were punished and a 90-year old man with dementia can keep a woody up longer than Roma can maintain any form of consistency. We won those Scudetti on the pitch, damnit, and Inter, Milan, or Roma have been unable to beat us despite all the turmoil the club has been through. Inter is nothing more than a pretender to the throne.

Is it fate or is it a coincidence that Inter happen to have my 4 most-hated members of calcio? I've always hated Materazzi; I was thrilled when Zizou slammed his head into his chest. While Zizou's actions were certainly not right....the douchebag deserved it. I have always hated Luis Figo, long before he joined Inter. He's somewhat similar to Pavel Nedved in that both are Ballon d'Or-winning left-wingers that moved to their current club late in the career, but Pavel works his ass off running up and down the field trying to drag the team. He is passionate. And that same passion is why he (and other great players, like Totti or Zizou) occasionally loses his cool. Figo is an arrogant smug asshat. The world and Inter would have been better off if they'd let him go rot in the Saudi league. And of course, Ibra. I've mentioned I used to love Ibra, obviously no longer. And Mourinho, who more-or-less fits Figo's description.


Having sung my contempt for several Interistas, I will mention some positives in their team. J. Zanetti oozes class. Julio Cesar is a top-notch keeper, Cambiasso doesn't irk me, and Cordoba is underrated. Good thing he's sitting this one out. Maicon is one of the best fullbacks in the world right now. Players I couldn't care about? Mancini, and Quaresma. They don't scare me in the least, and we have Cristian Molinaro playing left-back. Overrated CR3.5's without the final ball, but with all of the trivelas and step-overs that make Inter games wonderful (or awful, depending on your view) drinking games.

This game is also about the future of Italian football. It is extremely ironic that while 5 Italian National members toiled in the provincial stadiums of Serie B, Inter made Serie A history by becoming the first team to name a starting 11 without any Italians. Look tomorrow: Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro, Camoranesi (sorta), Marchisio (maybe) and Del Piero. 6 Italians, and that's with Buffon and C. Zanetti injured. I'm proud that we have given a chance to young Italian stars like Chiellini, Molinaro, Marchisio and De Ceglie and Giovinco will get theirs soon. All have strong cases to be in the Nazionale in the future. We have Gianluigi Buffon, heir-apparent to the captainship of both Juventus and Italy. I think Giorgio Chiellini will follow in his footsteps, not anytime soon, but one day he will be the captain of Italy and Juventus.

But enough about the squads! Let's get onto the game. I worry about being overconfident, I'm naturally a fairly cautious and pessimistic guy. But Juventus have won 7-in-a-row, including 2-0 wins over Roma and AT Real Madrid. Inter, on the other hand, have looked far from convincing. Their display against Famagusta was sheer comedy and their Serie A form has been lucky to keep winning, I'd love to see Burdisso face us. But then again, last time we met at the San Siro Del Piero absolutely tore apart Materazzi, so it's a toss up. I did love Burdisso's "clearing" header-cum-Trezegol-assist though.

Injuries: The usuals, Buffon, Knezevic, Zebina, Andrade, and Trezegol are out. C. Zanetti, Poulsen, and Brazzo miss the trip. There is good news on the injury front, Buffon and Trez are preparing to start light training again a bit ahead of schedule. There's still a 2009 expected return date for both though. Tiago might be a bit tired from jet-lag, having played in Brazil just a few days ago, he returned to Turin this afternoon.
Who Plays?: A pretty straightforward selection, it seems. Marchisio has returned from injury but I'm expecting Tiago to get the nod ahead of him. Camoranesi played a half with Italy earlier this week, so he might start ahead of Marchionni or be used as a sub. Other than that, seems pretty straight forward. Nedved didn't play against Genoa so he'll be raring to go.
Expected Lineup: (4-4-2) Manninger; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Sissoko, Tiago, Nedved; Amauri, ADP

Injuries: Crystal Chivu (I like the name, Chris) and Rivas are out. Other than that, I don't know. Check the Inter Offside.
Who Plays?: As I mentioned, Mancini and Quaresma don't scare me at all. Mourinho's 4-3-3 has been far from impressive, probably because both wingers suck. There's been suggestions both will be dropped for a more standard 4-4-2 with Ibra and Cruz leading the line. The other question is central defense, who will line up with Samuel? Samuel is a solid defender, Burdisso and Materazzi are both capable of massive errors though. I'll go with the Matrix.
Expected Lineup: (4-1-3-2) Julio Cesar; Maicon, Burdisso, Samuel, Maxwell; Cambiasso; Vieira, Muntari, Zanetti; Ibrahimovic, Cruz

Key Battles:
Giorgio Chiellini v. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Most of Serie A first woke up to Keyser Giorgio after the first time they met. The second time.....Maniche scored. Ibra is a big-game choker extraordinaire and if he ever wants to win the Ballon d'Or, he's gotta learn somehow not to be. Scoring two great goals against Palermo is nice and all, but that doesn't win you the Champion's League or the Ballon d'Or.

'Nuff said.

Claudio Ranieri v. Jose Mourinho: It almost seems reversed. Inter, after all, are the "loveable losers" of Serie A and Juve is known for its brash, perhaps arrogant style. I've never hidden the fact I'm a fan of Ranieri who is known as a likable guy, yet has an empty silverware cabinet. I cannot stand Mourinho. World-class douchebag. I would absolutely love for Claudio to get some small measure of personal revenge over the Overrated One who replaced him at Chelski, particularly after all the smacktalk Mourinho unleashed earlier this season, calling him a 70-year old loser with dementia. What an ass.

Julio Cruz v. Mancini/Quaresma: It's the difference between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 for Inter. Quaresma is Jose's buttboy, and JC has been occasionally frozen out of the squad. Julio Cruz is a great striker, underrated by Inter. He got the goods against us last year and he's always a threat. I hope Mancini/Quaresma start, but maybe Mourinho has gotten some sense.

ADP+Amauri v. Inter defense: Inter have conceded very few goals at home, but then again they were undefeated for years at home last year, until we showed up. ADP and Amauri are in great form and Inter is missing Cordoba, which is huge. One of them will score, that's true.

Predicted Result: 2-1 to the Bianconeri. We're made for this game, and 7 wins in a row have put us in good form.

Kudos to Omar for finding this vid...

Last comment: The Inter-Juve derby will forever remind me of Giorgio Chiellini, he has certainly made his mark and that was his explosion into the minds of other Serie A fans. He was captain of the Azzurrini for years, but two years ago he was a very promising youth product who was playing in Serie B. Just two years later, he's one of the best defenders in the world. If there's an Azzurri fan out there who doesn't like him, you better get used to it, because he is going to be starting for the Azzurri for many, many years. Giorgio is an absolute fuckin beast. While I hope Marchisio, De Ceglie, and Giovinco stay for many years.....I hope Chiellini follows in Scirea's footsteps and stays forever. I can't imagine him in another shirt.