When the Serie A schedule came out back in August and it was revealed the first meeting between Juventus and Inter Milan would be right after the calendar turns to October, it was viewed as a measuring stick for both teams still in the early stages of their respective makeovers. Both clubs would have a couple of Champions League group stage games and a few months with their new manager’s system under their belts, with the hope that progress was being made rather than a whole lot of wild inconsistencies and poor results.
Through its first six league games with Maurizio Sarri, Juventus has dropped all of two points.
Through its first six league games with Antonio Conte, Inter has gone a perfect 6 for 6.
Between the two of them, you’ve got the top two teams in Serie A so far this season.
Sounds like a pretty decent way to go into the first Derby d’Italia of the season, doesn’t it?
It’s not just the fact that one of these two teams is coached by the guy who helped the other team start its current domination of Italy’s top flight. It’s not just the fact that the guy who is charged with getting Inter back to one of the top clubs in Italy is the guy who built Juventus’ roster into what it is today. It’s not just the fact that the same guy is going to be facing his old club — and the same team where he was a legendary figure as a player — for the first time as an opposing manager. And it’s not just the fact that both of these clubs have not lost one game — at least in Serie A — through the first six rounds of the league schedule.
As Juventus heads to the San Siro for Sunday night’s derby, it’s just about everything you can think of being thrown into what is certainly a new chapter between these two clubs that absolutely hate each other.
And it just so happens that Maurizio Sarri’s Juve are coming off one of their best showings of the young season in the Champions League.
We always knew that the implementation of Sarri’s system was going to take time. And, with the kind of talent that Juventus has on its roster, there was always going to be the potential for some very good things to happen even throughout the early stages of the learning process. The ultimate payoff wasn’t Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen, but it was another sign that this team is going in the direction that we all wanted them to when the managerial change was made late in the spring.
OK, so it wasn’t 60-something percent possession and Juve didn’t rack up scoring chances like there was no tomorrow. But, for one of the first times this season, Juve weren’t walking the fine line between good football and being a complete mess. Instead, it was about as complete of a game as we’ve seen from Sarri’s men this season.
Now, with the second international break of the season almost here and the most-hated domestic opponent next up on the schedule, the hope is that the progress Juventus has made over the last couple of weeks starts to become consistent rather than something we see here and there and then wonder what the heck is going to happen in between.
Either way, Sarri’s Juventus is about to get one of its biggest tests of the season. The same can be said when it comes to the team Juventus will be lining up against, too.
That should equate to quite the interesting first Derby d’Italia of the 2019-20 season.
- The injured list is still pretty much the same, which is good and kinda bad at the same time.
- Mario Mandzukic is still frozen out of the match day squad, with a move to another club in January now looking more and more like the most likely option,
- It seems like we’re starting to write the same kinds of things over and over again, huh?
- If Juve wins, they jump over Inter and into first place.
- If Juve loses, they could be jumped by Atalanta and have some company in second place heading into the international break.
- Oh, and also trail Inter by five points, which doesn’t sound all that great.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Throwing y’all a bit of a curveball with this one.
Behold, Juventus’ new star right back!
Yes, the Johnny Square Experience as a defender has been about as drama-free as you would have expected it to go so far. (Oh, please, you were expecting this to be a complete disaster ... and so was I.)
/exits sarcasm font/
Cuadrado’s performance as a right back has been one of the more surprising developments over the last couple of weeks. As much as Juve is paying the price right now for not having proper fullback depth with Danilo and Mattia De Sciglio both out injured, Cuadrado not being a complete liability as a defender has certainly eased a lot of people’s fears.
But to do it against SPAL is one thing.
Doing it against Bayer Leverkusen and its attacking talent is another.
And the same goes for Inter, with Cuadrado likely to see a lot of former teammate Kwadwo Asamoah out wide with Conte’s 3-5-2 formation.
But what has impressed most during Cuadrado’s run of red-hot form has been how little of a liability he has been on the defensive end of the field. He’s always going to get forward — and even more so with Juventus switching to a 4-3-1-2 with and getting most of its width from the fullback position(s). That’s what he does, and he has certainly been contributing on the offensive end no matter if he’s a winger or a right back. But, like Sam said after the win over Bayer Leverkusen, I’m not sure anybody would have thought that Cuadrado would be THIS GOOD as a defender. Throw in the fact that he now has Andrea Barzagli essentially playing the role as individual tutor and you have Cuadrado making a case for more playing time even as a fullback even when Danilo and/or De Sciglio are healthy.
Maybe a couple of weeks ago Juventus found themselves in a bit of a fullback crisis. Well, with what Cuadrado has done ever since then, the simple survival mode feeling has gone by the wayside. And with Inter one of the highest scoring teams in Serie A through the first six weeks of the season, another Leverkusen-like defensive performance from Cuadrado — and, shoot, the entire back four as a whole — would be quite the nice way to go into the international break.
When: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019
Where: Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, Milan, Italy
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia America (United States); RAI Italia America, TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 2 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Sport 1, Sky Sport Serie A (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); Sky GO Italia (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.