The Derby D’Italia was once the premier matchup on the Serie A calendar, but on Saturday the game was anything but a thriller.
Call it what you like, but today’s prime time fixture was anything but a 5-star marketing display for Serie A.
Arriving just a few days after their Champions League group stage finale in Athens, Juve was running on less rest than their Nerazzurri counterparts. Despite this, it’s safe to say the home side were the only ones who came out to play. Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti never once appeared interested in going for all three points, and his opposite Massimiliano Allegri never seemed willing to take them.
In a day and age where Serie A needs its biggest matches to live up to the hype, today did anything but.
With Juve’s arguably most eccentric players all starting on the bench – Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro and Douglas Costa, it was clear Allegri wanted to take the more pragmatic and cautious approach. Which in all honesty shouldn’t shock anybody given the fact he continuously sets his team out to play with the handbrake on.
It’s bad business for Italian football, which is currently reeling from the Azzurri failing to qualify for the World Cup, plus the likelihood of both Juventus and Roma not making deep UEFA Champions League runs. While luxury matchups in the Premier League and La Liga rarely disappoint, today was a bad expo for Serie A.
Where are the Italians?
Five Italians in total started in today’s Derby d’Italia. None of them had real noteworthy performances besides Giorgio Chiellini who managed to shackle Mauro Icardi into oblivion. Mattia De Sciglio was positive but failed to offer much going forward. If he’s to make a case for an Azzurri recall, he needs to be more consistent going forward.
For Inter’s Italian brigade, Antonio Candreva was rarely in possession on the attacking end but did sacrifice himself a lot going back on defense. Davide Santon was mowed down by a rampant Juan Cuadrado all match long until he picked up an apparent injury in the 63rd minute forcing him off. Lastly, Danilo D’Ambrosio gave Asamoah a lot of space to work with but that seems to have been by design. Candreva would fall back into a normal fullback role while D’Ambrosio man-marked Mandzukic in the box, at times ineffectively.
Juventus will walk away from the match feeling discouraged because they were the only side who came to attack.
Inter only mustered one shot on target and the bulk of their possession was in their own half. Allegri didn’t push the issue and chase after a clearly beleaguered Inter, and the two dropped points may come back to haunt them.
Handanovic for me was by far the man of the match while Mandzukic and Cuadrado had strong showings for Juventus. At the end of the day, Inter played a horrendous match but walk out with a massive point.