24th March 2012
Juventus enter the Derby d’Italia on a high after qualifying for the Coppa Italia final, but the Bianconeri are aware that another slip-up in Serie A would see them say goodbye to the league title. Inter are hoping to get back in contention for the Champions League places after the goalless draw against Atalanta and they, too, will be looking to win this game.
Juventus may have missed out on European qualification last term, but instead of crying over spilt milk, the club chiefs made the most of the difficult situation and decided to rebuild the squad and fully focus on domestic competitions. With no European distractions, the Old Lady gained the extra edge over their opponents and that is probably the main reason why the Bianconeri are still in the Serie A title race. In all fairness, Antonio Conte has a very good squad at his disposal, but I seriously doubt Juventus would have been so impressive if they had played in Europe this season. The 5-0 victory over arch rivals Fiorentina not only ended the run of four straight league draws, but it also served as a big confidence boost, while the good atmosphere in the team was maintained with a hard-fought victory over Milan in Coppa Italia semi-finals. The Bianconeri are now set to tackle the other great club from the fashion capital of Europe and they know all too well that only a victory would keep them in the title race. Antonio Conte will have to make do without suspended Stephan Lichtsteiner, but the good news is Andrea Barzagli has recovered from injury.
Just when it seemed that Claudio Ranieri had stabilized the team after the dismal start to the season, Inter embarked on a wretched run of results that is threatening to ruin their season. The run of seven defeats in eight games have cost the Neroazzurri dearly as they crashed out of the Coppa Italia and Champions League, while seriously damaging their chances of a top 3 finish in Serie A. Claudio Ranieri’s men have shown a lot of improvement of late, but it appears they are still feeling the ill-effects of one of the worst series of results in club’s recent history. In the absence of Wesley Sneijder and Ricky Alvarez, lack of creativity in midfield is proving to be a major issue, as witnessed by the goalless draw against Atalanta, and it is not realistic to expect we will see a major improvement in that department against rock-solid Juventus. Fredy Guarin is finally ready to make his debut, but he is unlikely to start after the lengthy absence through injury, whereas Diego Forlan should be preferred to Giampaolo Pazzini.
Juventus are brimming with confidence at the moment and they go into this game on the back of two impressive performances against Fiorentina and Milan. Inter, on the other hand, cannot seem to rediscover their form, and without Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings in midfield, the Neroazzurri look destined for defeat.
Verdict: Home win Juventus (1)
Best Odds: 7/10