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Inter 1-2 Juventus: Bianconeri Doom Inter To Crying Shame And Relegation Zone

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The Derby d'Italia has always had a special feel to it. Whether it is the hatred that all of the sudden pours out of me (us), or the borderline psychotic behavior that I adopt for those few hours before, during, and after the game, it is never just a game. There is so much at stake: pride, bragging rights, continuing the history, keeping up with tradition, calciopoli revenge...and all that without even mentioning the table, points, and season expectations. Every game of these two teams is a potential emotional trainwreck which ends in either euphoria or devastation. This time around, deservedly, it was euphoria that will last at least until the Napoli match this weekend.

Juventus Milan Marchisio

As John laid it out nicely in the game preview, Juventus came into this game having earned 4 points from the last 2 games occupying the top of the table without a defeat. Inter, on the other hand, was lurking around the relegation zone and were also facing a long injury list. They did have the advantage of the home court, however, which the fans used as both a motivating weapon for our players (with the cheating and Sereie B banner) and a disgraceful display of unsportmanship (with the Heysel tragedy-mocking banner). We were lucky to get Buffon back right before the game and were at full strength bar Giaccherini.

Conte decided to stick with the 4-3-3 that worked well against Fiorentina and put out the almost exact lineup from midweek (Buffon came in for Storari). Zeru tituli Ranieri came out with a 4-3-1-2 with Zanetti, Cambia, and Obi in the middle behind Sneijder as the trequartista and Pazzini and Zarate up top.

Inter was the better of the two teams in the early stages of the game. As Juventus was getting their feet wet and trying to get a feel for the pitch and the tempo of the game, i Nerazuri wasted no time getting the ball wide and forward. After Cambiasso volleyed a shot from close range wide of the post, the first shot on Buffon's goal came courtesy of a Zarate backheel from a cross by Zanetti who strode down Juventus' left side going past Vucinic, Marchisio, and Chiellini in style.

As Inter pushed forward, they were able to draw several corners from the Juve defense as our players couldn't quite get a hold of the game in the first 10 minutes. Defensively, it was a very interesting dynamic displayed by the Nerazuri, who were seemingly in transition trying to learn Ranieri's ways of defending. After an attack when Juventus had the ball deep in our half, Inter pushed up high, pressed high, and closed down high. When successful, this made it difficult for Pirlo and our full backs to find space and start off the attack.

Juventus Milan Marchisio

Inter players pushing up high and quickly closing down any creative movement

When unsuccessful and Juventus were able to get the ball out to Inter's half, Ranieri's men resorted to a deeper, more compact set up somewhat reminiscent of his defensive style from his Juve years. Unfortunately for him, Inter's players didn't seem to be used to this transition at all and often left acres of space for our midfielders or wingers/fullbacks. One such instance in the 12th minute left Lichtsteiner wide open on the right, and after his cross and tap in by Matri were blocked by Castelazzi, Vucinic pounced on the rebound to make it 1-0 against the run of play.

Juventus Milan Marchisio

Inter's defense tyring to stay compact in turn left Steiner with acres of space

Immediately after the goal, Matri was set up perfectly by Vucinic for a clean shot on goal but his big chance to put Juve up 2-0 ended just wide of the post.

Inter soon responded and after keeping possession and trying to attack, Maicon got somewhat lucky when his shot was deflected into the corner of Buffon's net. The Brazilian right back roamed with ease down the flank for the majority of the first half as our midfielders failed to pick him up wide enough while Chiellini was busy keeping tabs with Zanetti.

Pazzini then had a great chance to put Inter up 2-1 but his header rattled Buffon's crossbar. As the tempo settled a bit, Juve hit Inter again with a wonderful play this time through the wide-open middle. Marchisio played a sweet one-two with Matri and finished beautifully, sending the fans and players at the stadium into a frenzy like no other. Juventus seemed to finally be taking their chances after games of rued chances, and I truly believed we'll score a third and finally put a game away early.

But it was not to be.

In the second half, Inter tried to tie the game up but Juventus came out the blocks a bit smarter and a bit more organized. Tactically, Conte made a couple key changes. First, Vucinic and Pepe swapped sides which allowed Pepe to track back more and help close down Maicon. Chiellini also started sliding more towards the centre of defense where he feels more natural (as seen in the screenshot below). Then, Vucinic and Matri played a bit deeper and helped out the 3 midfielders keep a solid line in before our defense which limited Inter's effectiveness through the middle.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Pepe dropping back to cover for Maicon, creating a 5 man defense that was pretty much impenetrable"]Juventus Milan Marchisio

Also worth noting was Alessandro Del Piero's contribution. Coming on late in the second half, he was expectedly successful in holding the ball and helping Juve keep possession. He even had a marvelous one on one chance to put the game away, but he didn't connect on his shot as he wanted and the shot went wide.

LE PAGELLE:

Buffon: 6.5 - Decent game from Gigi after what seemed like a rushed return. Not much he could've done on the goal.

Lichtsteiner: 7.5 - A very, very strong performance from Lichsteiner, both defensively and offensively. Pretty much set up the first goal, saved a couple potential Inter goals with timely blocks, and pushed forward whenever he saw a bit of space open. He is becoming invaluable on both sides of the field. Loving it.

Barzagli: 7 - Barzagli moved excellently today. Much was asked of him I think, as Lichtsteiner was pushing up and Chiellini was narrowing in setting up a 3-man defense more often than not. Marked well and closed down fairly quick.

Bonucci: 7.5 - A man-of-match-like performance by Bonucci, who blocked 3 very dangerous shots on goal and was always quick to clear any confusion in our defense. A very non-nonsense performance from our young defender who is really coming into his own with Barzagli by his side.

Chiellini: 6.5 - Most everything has been said about Chiellini in the terzino position - he is not suited for the role and can be quite awkward both on offense and defense there. Plus, Pepe wasn't there to help him in the first half which is something he was surely getting used to. Cannot wait till we get a solid left back and create a selection headache for the 2 starting centre back spots.

Pirlo: 6 - If this was the NBA, Pirlo would've been absolutely torched by the media for the amount of turnovers in the game. He seemed very lax and made some very uncanny passes (backheel, couple turnovers in our own 16, etc). Feels very weird giving Pirlo a 6, but he deserved it. Look for him to bounce back against Napoli.

Vidal: 6.5 - Arturo had a good game on Saturday and as always, worked his butt off. I still think his decisions are rash and his passing is too eager at times. He also needs to start blasting more from long range since we all know he can do it. An indispensable piece of the 3-midfield puzzle, but he has plenty to improve on.

Marchisio: 7.5 - What a true Bianconero heart this kid has. Scoring his 4th goal of the season (as much as he had all last year) after a wonderful run and one-two with Matri. His finish was superb. He has now put away both Inter and Milan this year and is in great, great form. I really hope he doesn't get injured as this is surely his breakout year. Right on time too as it's ADP's last season. Yes Gigi and Chiellini will still be around, but Claudio can be our real leader in the years to come. And who better to help steer him along the way than Conte?

Juventus Marchisio Inter

Pepe: 6.5 - After he set his own bar a bit high in the last couple games, Pepe was bound to come down to reality against Inter. That is not to say he didn't have a good game. Especially in the second half when playing in that quasi-left back role, Pepe did very well defensively.

Matri: 7.5 - Haters gonna hate, but Matri was my man of match in this derby. He initiated the action that led to the first goal, set up the second, and kept giving the Inter defenders trouble throughout the whole 70 minutes he was on. One thing I didn't like was his bitching when getting subbed off, though you can certainly understand the emotion after trying to score for more than an hour.

Vucinic: 7 - Finally Mirko scores a goal! Hope this opens the floodgates for the rest of the season. Somewhat silenced his critics that he doesn't show up in big games. I think he worked particularly hard for being Mirko Vucinic, and was extremely humble in his post-game interview.

Subs:

Estigarribia: 6.5 - Conte clearly sees him as another workhorse on the pitch and starts to really count on him to keep pressure on players when coming on. He had a couple good runs and plays in the limited time he was given. Let this kid grow and he can become a very useful player for the club. Plus, his passion is already there.

Del Piero: sv

Pazienza: sv

Juventus Milan

Coach:

Conte: 7.5 - Still living the fairytale start without a defeat, one has to give Conte credit for how flexible he has made our team in a short amount of time. Everyone is willing to die on the field already and for the first time in a while our players play prepared and focused. I don't think I will ever get sick of how he celebrates these victories like he's one of the players.

Things I think I think:

#1: Hold those derby horses - Both the Milan and Inter derbies we've played so far have not been a true representation of the quality of our opponents. Inter may be right above the relegation zone, but they will be back towards the top half of the table by the end of the year. They will also probably have a stronger squad when we play them in the Spring. Milan are also showing signs that they are indeed the champions and intend on keeping that status this year as well. I know these results are great right now, but the way to a top 3 finish is still long and hard. That said, can't wait for the Napoli game. We have the momentum and legs to at least outwork them. Couple that with a Matri goal or two and we should be looking solid.

#2: Related reading/viewing:

THE JUVENTUS OFFSIDE SHITLIST:

- Krasic: Hopefully all this rest is serving him well and letting him re-focus. Can't wait to see how he responds when he's back in the side.
- Zebina: (lifetime award)
- Amauri: (almost lifetime award status) #IBlameAmauri