Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Mandzukic will never be mistaken for players who play with grace. They are tough guys, the definition of tough guys, and two Juventus’ biggest on-field emotional leaders who also happen to be very, very good at their respective jobs.
Knowing how they are, it only made sense that Chiellini and Mandzukic were two of the biggest reasons why Juventus was able to continue its success over Inter Milan when playing at Allianz Stadium.
Mr. No Good turned into Mr. Big Game once again, scoring the only goal in Juventus’ 1-0 win over Inter on Friday night. On the other side of the field, Chiellini put forth arguably his best performance of the season as he kept Inter striker and resident pain-in-the-ass-of-Juve striker Mauro Icardi completely quiet for the first time in a long time when playing in the Derby d’Italia.
Two no-nonsense kind of dudes.
Two very important roles on this team.
Two very good performances against Juve’s most-hated rival.
Another three points in the bag.
This derby will not be remembered for the style points mainly because there were very little of them. Juventus was sending cross ... after cross ... after cross into the box without little success. It was the classic kind of derby where one moment was likely going to decide the outcome — and then it came courtesy of, you guessed it, a cross into Mandzukic. Thanks to Joao Cancelo’s latest peach of a cross, Mandzukic was able to tower over his former teammate and Inter left back Kwadwo Asamoah to head home his seventh goal of the Serie A season. (For what it’s worth, Mandzukic had five goals against Serie A opposition all of last season.)
Then they turned it over to Chiellini and crew at the back where they kept Inter’s attack, one that was averaging nearly two goals a game entering Friday’s trip to Turin, about as quiet as can be outside of Roberto Gagliardini hitting the post in the first half.
And for somebody like Chiellini, who was seen celebrating a blocked shot around the 80-minute mark almost as much has he celebrated his goal against Fiorentina over the weekend, that’s the kind of game that he embraces.
It was just a hard-earned, nothing-all-that-pretty kind of three points. This might not end up being a Derby d’Italia that we talk about for years to come, but it’s just the latest win in a season where Juve just rack up three points after three points no matter what the overall product ends up being.
And when it comes against Inter, the three points are the most important thing of them all.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- “Mario guut very guut...” - Sami Khedira
- When I said in the match preview that I would love it if Chiellini had one of those games where he keeps Icardi under wrap for 90 minutes and allows him to do next to nothing, I was thinking that, based on recent history, that’s going to be pretty damn hard to actually see through. Then I fire up the final stats on WhoScored and see that Mauro Icardi attempting the same amount of shots as I did in Friday’s derby. God bless you, Giorgio, you awkward yet wonderful man you.
- How happy do you think Joao Cancelo is to be on the black and white side of the Juve-Inter rivalry? He continues to be awesome as we charge to the midway point of the season. As much as people will herald the Cristiano Ronaldo signing as the best signing of the season, Cancelo is making his case to be one of the best there was not only in Italy but across Europe as a whole. The dude is just so damn good, so damn consistent.
- Also, how good are Cancelo and Mattia De Sciglio where they can constantly switch from right to left and vice versa and not miss a beat at all? It’s impressive that they can do it with such ease and that Allegri has absolutely no problem with it at all.
- Wojciech Szczesny had so little to do that his one save is one that I don’t even remember him making.
- The decision to Matteo Politano with Borja Valero didn’t work out very well, did it?
- I feel like Blaise Matuidi ran about 100 miles against Inter. That might be a slight exaggeration, but let’s just go with it because Matuidi seemed like he was everywhere.
- I sure hope Friday’s appearance allowed Emre Can to shake off the rust from not playing for about six weeks because he’ll probably be playing a few more minutes thanks to Rodrigo Bentancur getting a yellow card against Inter that means he’ll be suspended for the Turin derby next weekend.
- I can’t wait for people to freak out about Paulo Dybala’s performance because he didn’t score a goal.
- I had a laugh when right as one of the commentators on ESPN said “Inter look like they’re completely out of ideas” and there they were passing it back to the goalkeeper as stoppage time got going in the second half.
- Fourteen points now separate Juventus and Inter in the Serie A standings. That’s cool.
- I just wrote around 900 words, but Inter’s match can be summed up in one photo. Heh.