Serie A Weekly welcomes new writer Matthew Coccoluto to our pages from week to week.
Once again the Derby D’Italia proved to be a good one as Juventus came away from the San Siro with all three points. Prior to this week, Inter had managed to win only two games while losing an astonishing four. Juventus were coming off a mid-week win against Fiorentina, their second win in the last five games. Inter had to do without a number of key players including Diego Forlan, Thiago Motta, Walter Samuel, and Julio Cesar. Juventus regained their number one keeper as Gigi Buffon returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury.
Conte started the game with the same line-up he used against Fiorentina with Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, Lichtsteiner; Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal; Pepe, Matri, and Vucinic. On the other side, Claudio Ranieri matched his mid-week line-up the Castellazzi; Maicon, Lucio, Chivu, Nagatomo; Zanetti, Cambiaso, Obi; Sneijder; Zarate, Pazzini. The big change came in the midfield where Ranieri started Joel Obi, opting for the young Nigerian over Dejan Stankovic.
The match got underway with both teams pushing. Inter were the more aggressive team to start off but it was Juventus that struck first. The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute when Mirko Vucinic netted his second of the season. The drive started with a long ball played to Stephen Lichtsteiner. The Swiss defender was given acres to run with the ball as he pushed up the wing. His incoming cross was well met by Alessandro Matri who drove it low and hard at the keeper. Castellazzi was able to block it but Vucinic was lurking nearby as he buried the ball straight down the center of the goal.
Juventus looked set to net a second quickly after the reset as Vucinic swung a pass onto the foot of Matri whose shot went just wide of the net. The Juventus attack didn’t end there, as in the next minute Matri once again found himself in the box with the ball at his feet but Castellazi did well to close down the angle. Inter was not to be outdone as Mauro Zarate beat Barzagli but his shot was just wide.
Two minutes after, Inter were able to draw level in the form of Maicon. The Brazilian did well to push forward on the wing and rocketed a shot from a difficult angle near post upper corner, a world class finish that evened everything up at 1-1 in the 28th. Inter came close to getting a second goal 3 minutes later as a Pazzini header beat Buffon but smashed the crossbar.
Juventus were able to pull back ahead thanks to Claudio Marchisio. In the 33rd minute, Marchisio played a quick one-two with Matri and was able to squeak a shot by Castellazi.
Marchisio looked certain to grab a second one minutes later as he was played in by Pirlo, one on one with the keeper but his attempt to flick the ball over the keeper went wide as he was taken out by an incoming Castellazi. His appeals for a penalty fall on def ears and the remainder of the half played out with Juventus on top 2-1.
As exciting a first half this match had proven to be, the second half saw a lot less action. Inter subbed on Luc Castaignos to start the second half in replace of Mauro Zarate. Both teams continued to push forward, Inter the more aggressive of the two. Estigarribia came on in the 69th minute for Matri and almost netted his first goal in the Bianconeri, but his shot was well parried by Castellazi. Inter had a number of chances throughout the second half but the Juventus defenders did well to get in the way of the various incoming shots. Juventus were handed another wonderful opportunity to go two ahead when Del Piero, who had come on in the 84th, was one on one with Castellazi but his shot sailed well wide.
The game ended the same as the first half Juventus 2, Inter 1 breaking their streak of two years without a win against Inter at the San Siro. Both teams had their opportunities and by no means did any one team dominate the game. Inter, now sitting in 17th on the table, have quick work to do as they welcome Lille on Wednesday for Champions League play. Juventus are once again on top of the table as they have a week to prepare for the upcoming to trip to Napoli.