Serie A Week 13 – Sunday 6 November 2022 – Juventus Stadium
The Bianconeri have looked better in recent weeks but face their toughest challenge of the Serie A season to date when their host a resurgent Inter side who have won their last four league matches in a row.
It’s been a turbulent few months for the Old Lady with their European ambitions already dashed thanks to an abysmal showing in the Champions League, while their league form has looked less than impressive, despite having notched up three wins in a row, albeit against lowly opposition. Injuries haven’t helped matters, with no fewer than 11 first team players sitting out chunks of the early season through one ailment or another, but Juve’s approach to matches has been the biggest gripe for the Gobbi.
The suggestion in pre-season was that Allegri wanted to build this team around Dusan Vlahovic by providing width through wingers who could get him the ball from the flanks, but that game plan was tossed out a few weeks into the campaign when it became apparent the team wasn’t up to the task for a variety of reasons. The aforementioned injuries have forced the coaches hand in two ways: The tactical setup has reverted back to a tried and tested 3-5-2 that most of the players know well, and secondly, the younger players have had a chance to feature, in part due to the injuries but also their encouraging form in brief cameos.
While it’s been predominantly doom and gloom so far for Juve, there’s some slim glimmer of hope as the team looked more up for it against PSG, even though they ultimately lost the match. The application, attitude and mindset was improved as the players looked better in possession, more inventive from midfield while the younger players exhibit a cavalier approach to matters, keen to get in the final third and cause problems for the opposition back-line.
The toughest challenge for the coach will be to maintain and build on the moments of optimism from recent weeks, pull them together and keep the team motivated and working. The 3-5-2 works for now and the newer members of the squad seem to be settling into it, while the more experienced veterans like Bonucci and Cuadrado can play this way blindfolded. Kostic still seems to be finding his feet, but his runs from wing-back cause problems, even though the end product has lacked in recent matches. Chiesa’s return has bolstered the fans and even though his runout was brief, he showed some snatches of his best, making a beeline straight for the goal.
Heading into the match, it looks like Angel di Maria is fit and available, while Dusan Vlahovic could be a late callup, depending on how he trained. Bremer is fit and will likely go straight into the back three, while Fagioli is expected to be rewarded for his recent good run of form by holding his spot in midfield. There’s a suggestion that rather than risk Dusan from the off, Allegri will opt to play Milik with Miretti sitting just behind him. Chiesa isn’t expected to be in the starting XI but remains a potent option from the bench, even at 65% capacity.
Expected XI (3-5-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bremer, Sandro; Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Miretti, Milik.
There was a point earlier in the season when Interisti were calling for Inzaghi’s head with the Italian press suggesting that he had just two games to save his career, against Barcelona and Sassuolo. Four weeks later, the Nerazzurri look back to their very best, having qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with relative comfort, and winning four on the bounce in the league, including the game of the season against Fiorentina.
That 4-3 victory highlighted their shift in mentality and never-say-die attitude of late, a testament to Inzaghi’s solid work with his players and his ability to shoulder the blame and deflect the criticism levelled at his squad, allowing them to work in relative peace. The opposition have helped to a certain extent as the matches against Sampdoria and Salernitana ended up pretty comfortable run-outs, but Sassuolo was a test of their fortitude and the trip to Florence was end-to-end action, a straight out slugfest to see who could land the decisive blow.
In retrospect, the early dip in form looks to be entirely related to the teams mentality as there’s been no discernable change in tactics or formation. Lautaro’s return to form has made a huge difference while Barella seems to be back to his best, becoming the architect of their midfield play, stringing together passes and moving the team forward.
Even without Lukaku, the team have looked a real threat in recent weeks, with goals coming from all over the pitch – They’ve notched up 19 goals in their last seven matches with Correa stepping up from the bench in key moments to kill off games while Mkhitaryan seems to be slowly finding his feet after a rocky start.
Heading into this one, Inter look patched up and ready for what will undoubtedly be one of their toughest challenges of the season. Brozovic is back but it’s unlikely he will be pitched in from the off. Bastoni has a fever but may yet make the bench but they have options in De Vrij and Acerbi.
Expected XI (3-5-2): Onana; Skriniar, De Vrij, Acerbi; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko.
Juventus: Pogba (meniscus ), De Sciglio (thigh ), Kaio Jorge (tendon ), Aké (malleolus), Paredes, Kean, McKennie
Inter: Lukaku, D’Ambrosio (thigh)