With Juventus’ 1-1 draw against Empoli on Saturday night, the ability to full take advantage of having played a game more than second-place Inter wasn’t fully taken advantage of by Max Allegri’s squad. That left the door open for Inter to move back into first place
That left the door open for Inter to retake the place in which they’ve occupied much of the 2023-24 Serie A season.
And what do you know — they did just that. With a little bit of luck going their way, too.
Inter entered the Artemio Franchi trailing Juventus by two points, but they left Florence knowing they’re back in first place thanks to a 1-0 win over Fiorentina in which the current Serie A leaders saw Nico Gonzalez take one of the worst penalties of the season that was saved by Yan Sommer. That means next Sunday’s Derby d’Italia between first-place Inter and second-place Juventus will have the Serie A table looking a little bit like this:
- Inter, 54 points
- Juventus, 53 points
That is the opportunity in which Juventus created with Saturday’s draw was certainly there for Inter. And even though the performance against Fiorentina wasn’t great — and could have ended in a draw if Gonzalez’s penalty was anything close to what you would have considered effective — Inter just did what they’ve been doing a lot this season and racking up three points even when they don’t play well.
It’s also created this scenario entering next Sunday’s showdown at the San Siro: An Inter win next weekend would put the Nerazzurri four points clear with a game in hand. But a Juve win would mean the Bianconeri go back into first place and hope that, at some point, the midweek Euopean fixtures in February come to haunt and potentially impact Inter when they return to league play.
Could an Inter win over Juventus spell the beginning of the end of the title race knowing that they have a game in hand? It would certainly put them in a really good spot no matter how long their run in the Champions League goes on beyond the round of 16 against Atlético Madrid. And it would put Juve in a spot where they couldn’t really afford to drop points the rest of the way knowing they would need to make up the deficit and hope for some help along the way.
No matter what, though, we’re about to head into a week in which the biggest domestic game Juve has played in probably a few years at least has the table all set. Now we just need to be patient as we wait for it to get here.