Inter (2): 12′ Vidal 52′ Barella
Inter have won Derby d’Italia for the first time since the first round of the season 16/17. They beat Juventus 2-0 with a dominant performance from the first to the last minute. Conte’s team showed great character during the 90 minutes of this game. Starting with Handanovic who had a great save when he was called upon. A back wall of the three center backs supported by an energetic midfield in both sides of the game, defensively and offensively. Ending with two forwards that were a little wasteful with their chances, but worked their socks off for the team. This win puts Inter on the 40th point mark with 7 points ahead of Juventus who sits 5th in the table with a game in hand.
Inter started the game with great energy and determination. Defensively, they were very solid, while still trying to creat as chances up front. Vidal opened the scoring for Inter in the 12th minute with a great header. He got at the end of a left-footed cross by Barella from the right side putting the ball in the back of the net without leaving a chance for Szczesny to save it. Inter kept creating chances for the rest of the first half after they took the early lead. However, the forwards were a little reckless with their finishing.
In the second half, Inter retained the same intensity they started the game with. They assured their lead in the 52nd minute when Bastoni played an inch-perfect long ball to Barella who was running from behind the midfield breaking the high defensive line by Juventus. The Italian international put the ball under control right in the final third with only Szczesny to beat, and with a composed and sublime technique, he finished the ball in the top left corner of the Juventus goal.
Juventus tried to come back to the game for the rest of the second period with no success. Inter limited their opposition to only two attempts on target for the whole of the second half. Inter players were able to see the game out with ease and without any panicky moments until the final whistle.
Shots/on Target: Inter 17/5 (Juventus 9/4)
Possession: (Inter 49%) Juventus 51%
Total Passes/Success: (Inter 520/88%) Juventus 525/90%
Starting Lineup and Formation
Inter started this game with the traditional 3-5-2 formation. The captain Handanovic between the posts. The combination of the three center backs de Vrij between Skriniar and Bastoni came back to the defense. The first two played only a part of the midweek game against Fiorentina, while the third didn’t take part in that game. In the midfield, Marcelo Brozovic, Vidal, and Barella started on the same line. Ashraf Hakimi and Ashley Young started as the right and the left wing-backs. Lukaku and Martinez started again as the attacking force for Inter.
Inter only used three substitutions in this game. Also, they didn’t change their shape during the game like they normally do in the later stages if they are winning. All the substitutions with like-for-like ones. Starting at the 72nd minute when Ashley Young was substituted with Darmian. Gagliardini and Alexis Sanchez replaced Vidal and Lautaro Martinez in the 77th and 86th minute in that order.
Inter started the game knowing the strengths of the Juventus squad, crossing from the sides and penetration from the middle with short passes. Conte had his players prepared for all these scenarios. The team started their defensive strategy from the half-way line with the two forwards, Lukaku and Lautaro blocking the passing channels from the defenders through the middle.
The second phase was to force Juventus to go to flanks while overloading the sides to deny Juventus any spaces to penetrate and reach the bylines. When Juventus were looking for the inside pass from the sides to the midfielders, Lautaro or Lukaku were instructed to drop and block the passing channel to Bentancur forcing Juventus to play the ball back to their defensive line. Inter limited Juventus to harmless early crosses and far range shots that never troubled Handanovic.
In the second half, Inter kept the same plan defensively while not repeating the same mistake by dropping deep after grabbing a lead. Inter players were constantly pressing the Juventus players from the half-way lines, overpowering them sometimes to play desperate long balls that were recovered easily.
Inter began the game with their usual routine of building from the back using the center backs and the deep midfielders. In this game, Conte changed the way his team normally does this. Instead of Brozovic dropping next to de Vrij pushing the outside center-backs towards the sides lines. He would sit in front of them to occupy the space between the Juventus forwards and their midfielders. That allowed Brozovic to carry the ball forward instead of just passing it sideways.
Inter chose to overload the sides offensively trying to push the Juventus players back to their half to create chances for crosses or playing Lukaku to his feet close to the goal.
Arturo Vidal and Nicola Barella were supporting the offensive line from the first minute. They tried to get involved in the final third during the attacking phases. They followed their passes forward and kept running into the box when they had chances, which resulted in the first goal.
In the second half, Inter didn’t just give up the ball possession to Juventus. The defenders and the midfielders were still trying to pass the ball in their half bypassing the Juventus press. The three center backs were moving into the empty spaces to create passing options for the underpressure midfielders. Inter had the majority of possession in the second half with 55%.
Inter defenders were creative when it came to long balls this game. de Vrij and Bastoni were picking the long pass option when Juventus players were pushing the defensive line high up on the field to support their press to get the ball back. Some of the passes were targeting the left side of the Juventus defense behind the advancing left wing-back. Most of the passes were to the speedy Ashraf Hakimi. However, Bastoni’s long pass to Barella in the second half created Inter’s second goal.
Inter finished the game with almost splitting the ball possession with Juventus, despite being in the lead for most of the game. On the other hand, Conte’s players created more dangerous chances than their oppositions throughout the whole game while keeping them away from the goal.
Man of the Match
Once again, Nicolo Barella proved that he is one of the best if not the best midfielder in Italy. The young Italian was impressive throughout the whole game. Apart from creating the first goal and scoring the second. He made his presence felt on the defensive side as well, with his relentless pressing and aggressive tackles everywhere on the field. The previous prospect is now an established cornerstone in Inter’s lineup. With his improvement rate, Barella can be one of the best midfielders in the world in no time.
With this win, Inter released some of the pressure that was on the team after the UCL exit.
After being labeled as a bottler in big games, Antonio Conte produced a tactical master class in this game responding to his critics.
Arturo Vidal proved that he can still play a big part this season after coming under some heat in recent weeks.
Inter now are just waiting for a small slip from their city rivals Ac Milan to take over the top spot unaccompanied.